Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Fred J. Galloway, EdD, Chairperson; Christopher B. Newman, PhD, Member; Neil B. Niman, PhD, Member


gamification, games, resilience, gaming, college, university, first-year, success, student, students, role-playing, multiplayer


Gamification, or the use of game-based mechanics and thinking in real world applications, is on the rise in educational environments. While various applications seek to increase engagement and motivation for tasks related to student success, research regarding best practices for the design of such systems is lacking. In fact, conflicting outcomes from various gamification studies at the secondary and tertiary education levels suggest that not all gamification designs are effective for increasing student success. Meanwhile, research from the medical field indicates gamification can be used to increase resilience; which has been linked to various student success outcomes including academic performance.

To address this issue, this study surveyed 116 first-year, first semester college students at a mid-sized, private, Catholic university in the Southwestern United States to determine if there were any significant relationships between their gaming behaviors and resilience levels and GPA. In addition to completing the Connor-Davidson resilience inventory (CD-RISC), participants reported their regular gaming habits, including game types, social context, motivation, and frequency and duration of play. Demographics, including sex, ethnicity and permanent residence were also used in the analysis.

Correlational analysis revealed notable relationships between overall resilience, the five factors that made up the resilience inventory, demographics, and gaming behaviors. Specifically, results showed that female students had resilience scores 4.2% lower than males; while regression analysis revealed students attending the university from ‘out-of-state’, scored 6.7% lower than in-state peers. However, playing role-playing games were associated with a 9.6% higher overall resilience level, Computer games were associated with 6.75-8.0% higher resilience in two of the resilience factors, while multiplayer online games were associated with a 17% higher score for the tenacity factor. Data on motivation and social context was inconclusive, and analysis did not yield substantial conclusions regarding ethnicity. Data shows gaming habits and resilience were not correlated with changes in GPA during the first year of study.

Implications for student success are that certain gaming types, including role-playing, multiplayer online and computer games may be more effective for increasing college student resilience, while gaming and resilience may not lead to higher academic achievement in the first-year of college.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies