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If you’ve used the language learning app Duolingo, you might be familiar with the concept of streaks: by completing a lesson each day, users can extend their streaks and are rewarded. Those who are not “streakers” are, on the other hand, mocked mercilessly by Duo to Owl for their failures (spurring the most delightful memes). But Duolingo uses a variety of gamification elements in addition to streaks, including badges. So, which technique is more effective?

According to a study presented at the 2018 4th Annual International Conference on Computer and Information Sciences (alphabet soup version: ICCOINS), which compared streaks to badges, the answer is (drum roll, please): streaks. Why? The concept of the winning streak is more effective at “helping users enhance their regular learning activity into serious gaming activity,” and, perhaps more importantly, “increases the motivation of advanced users when the attractiveness of Badges decreases” (Huynh, Zuo, & Iida, 2018, p. 4).

Key Takeaway

Badges may give learners a one-time boost, but streaks can encourage users to make learning a regular activity.

Read More (Paywall)

Huynh, D., Zuo, L., & Iida, H. (2018). An assessment of game elements in language-learning platform Duolingo. 2018 4th International Conference on Computer and Information Sciences (ICCOINS), Kuala Lumpur, 2018, pp. 1-4.

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