Gamifying a Moodle course. What difference does it make? Week 5


We’re fast approaching the half-way mark of my ‘Gamified vs non-gamified‘ Moodle course experiment. At week 5, students have met their first interim deadline of completing the ‘Investigate’ part of the course. This week I am comparing activity completion rates.

Activity completion

I started gamifying my course in a bid to increase engagement with Moodle, as my course is full of really useful organisational tools (or at least I think they’re useful…). There are a few ways to measure engagement with a VLE/LMS, and this week I decided to have a look at activity completion rates. Here is a visual representation of the activity completed/not completed by both groups of students. 

Activity completion rate for students enrolled in a gamified Moodle courseActivity completion rate for students enrolled in a non gamified Moodle course
Click here for full size imageClick here for full size image 

Activity completion gamified vs. non-gamified Moodle course

Activities completed481438
Activities not completed186229
Completion rate72%66%

Activity completion statistics – bold is better

You can see at first glance that there are some disparities between the two courses. Here are some conclusions.

No huge differences

As you can see from the visualisations, although there are some differences between the two courses, it isn’t exactly a void (+10% in favour of the gamified course). Aside from 2 or 3 students, most have been doing their work relatively conscientiously. Most of the activities that have not been completed are optional and might be completed later in the course – full statistical analysis will be available in early July 2013.  

Gamified students complete more activities

Nothing much to say here. Students enrolled in the gamified course have an average completion rate of 72%, whilst students enrolled in the non-gamified course have an average completion rate of 66%. 

Gamified students complete more meaningful activities

This is where things start to get interesting. Students were encouraged to share their first Scratch creations with their peers using the database, and also to attempt quizzes on Scratch blocks. None of these activities were compulsory but strongly encouraged.

46% of students in the non-gamified course completed the Scratch database activity vs. 83% for the gamified course. If you are equally mathematically challenged as I am, that’s almost twice as many students completing the task. This activity is best witnessed in the classroom as students download each other’s creations and tinker with it – a remixing of sorts.

Similar findings for the quizzes, although the difference isn’t quite as striking (see visuals for the full picture). More students in the gamified course have attempted quizzes than in the non-gamified course.

Gamified students try harder to complete activities

Not only did more students in the gamified course complete the database activity, they also shared more creations (70 vs. 51). They also attempted the quizzes more times (112 vs. 79).

Gamification is no cure for disappointment

I am disappointed that so few students read the level descriptors for the task. It *could* be that students made use of the level descriptor displays in my classroom, although from my observations I highly doubt that.


As explained in a previous post, I have gamified my course using badges. Only the students enrolled in the gamified course are able to unlock badges, but it is possible to look at what badges students in the non-gamified group would have unlocked, looking at the activity completion report, and a bit of Excel trickery. Here is what it would look like:

Badges unlocked by students enrolled in a gamified Moodle courseBadges that would have been unlocked by students enrolled in a non-gamified Moodle course
Click here for full size imageClick here for full size image

Students enrolled in the gamified course have unlocked 87 badges, whilst students enrolled in the non-gamified course would have unlocked 69 badges. This difference of 18 might not sound very significant, but to me it is huge, here is why. If you look closely at the graphics, you will notice that the first 2 badges have been unlocked by pretty much everyone, the first one was unlocked during the first lesson (students had to complete the activities to set up their workspace) and the second one was compulsory homework (install Scratch on home computer). The remaining 4 badges are linked to activities that students were encouraged to complete, but not forced to do (sharing Scratch animations, and attempt quizzes). It is clear that students enrolled in the gamified course took more care completing the optional activities than their non-gamified counterparts.


Last week it wasn’t so clear who was the most engaged with my Moodle course. With the numbers I have looked at this week, I can argue that the students in the gamified course are paying more attention to completing activities. I am really looking forward to the end of this unit of work to have a full picture (and *also* to enjoy the summer holidays!).

Completion rate72%66%
Badges unlocked8769
Quiz attempts11279
Scratch animations shared7051

Activity completion & other useful stats

Bold is better

Next week’s post will be more technical and I’ll share some MySQL queries to extract useful completion statistics out of your Moodle database. Stay tuned.


  1. Thanks ever so much for sharing your experiences, Frederic. This is starting to get really interesting now! Are you putting it forward for the Moodle research conference? Would make an excellent topic 🙂

    1. Hey Mark, glad you find it useful. I reckon the scope of this experiment is too limited to share the results at a research conference, as it involves only 2 classes. What do you think? 3 days in Tunisia in October would be rather nice though 🙂

  2. This is an excellent piece of research and I am going to attempt to do something similar with a course that I will be working with. I like the idea of the badges being unlocked – and the way that you have used just core moodle features which is an excellent idea.

    I am not as keen on the easter egg hunt for the penguins as the way that you have set this up requires a lot of direct linking back and forth, which is OK in that course, but if the course was moved to a different moodle installation or if you wanted to back up the course and then reimport it somewhere else (e.g. for next years students) all of those links would break, and would have to be manually recreated, which could get time consuming.

    1. Hey Dave,
      thanks for your comment. Good luck with your course, and please give us a shout when you have started teaching with it, I’d love to hear from other teachers attempting the same.
      I thought exactly the same as you before I duplicated my course regarding the links (I teach in a carousel, with 6 different groups every year), and I dragged my feet the first time I backed up & restored my course. To my surprise the links had been updated for the newly created course after the restore. I think this is due to how Moodle 2 handles files (couldn’t be sure though). The only links that didn’t port were for 2 penguins that are placed in quiz questions, and I had to adjust those manually. Having said that it did take an age the first time I set it up.

  3. Hi, Frederic!
    First of all I would like to congratulate you for the excellent work! I discovered your site this week and I loved it! Congratulations!
    Now, I have a question about one of your charts. The one in the “Activity completion” section. Did you generate it using some moodle plugin?
    Thank you very much! Greetings from Brazil! =)

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