Master Caroline Cruaud
Title of dissertation:
The Playful Frame. Design and use of a gamified application for Foreign Language Learning.
This article-based thesis investigates the potentials and challenges of gamification as a way to engage students in foreign language learning (FLL). Gamification is understood as the creation of a playful frame in the classroom context. The possibility of playfulness is introduced in learning activities through the presence of gamified structures and potentially playful elements. This thesis takes a look at the whole process of introducing gamified learning situations: from the design of an application to its use in a Norwegian upper-secondary school classroom by teachers and students. A design-based research model was used within a play-based approach to gamification to investigate teachers’ and students’ experiences using a gamified application for FLL in a classroom context. A one-year-long observational study in a French-as-a-foreign-language classroom was conducted during which empirical data were collected. Three empirical studies are used to focus on different aspects of the overarching research question and to foreground different types of data. Through thematic analysis of interviews and data log or interaction analysis of video excerpts, the studies investigate the teachers and learners’ perceptions of the presence of a playful frame in their classrooms and the students’ potential development of learner autonomy. The findings from this thesis show promise for the use of gamification in FLL. Students became more engaged in the learning activities and were in more contact with and produced many documents in the foreign language. The gamified structure supported the development of learner autonomy and gave students the opportunity to create their own learning paths. However, although this study demonstrates the overall positive findings from the field of gamification research, it also shows that the use of a gamified application can be challenging for some teachers. Additional research and practice contributions include the design of a gamified application and the development of a theoretical framework to study playful learning situations in FLL contexts.