A Gamification Technique for Motivating Students to Learn Code Readability in Software Engineering

Abstract: Code readability is one of the important software quality attributes that computer science students need to learn in their programming classes, unfortunately most of the students do not have the necessary work experience or background to appreciate the importance of code readability. Traditional methods of learning code readability tend to be less than interactive and practical in the classroom environment. With the advent of gamification technique, we introduced a new interactive teaching method and implemented as GamiCRS, an online platform for students to learn code readability. The focus was on incorporating game-based mechanisms to enable students with positive attitudes towards a more interesting learning process. A complete incentive and reward model is proposed in the study together with a combination of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators identified. To ensure its dynamic efficacy, we carefully carried out a field experiment to compare GamiCRS with its non-gamified counterparts and to evaluate learning outcomes. The empirical results show a positive effect towards the application of GamiCRS in the classroom environment. As many learning activities in software engineering are typically challenging and seldom amusing, gamification can thus be applied as a compelling addition to supporting a wider variety of teaching tactics.
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