Tag der Lehre | Inverted Classroom and Beyond 2024


⚡ Implementing an Educational Escape Room to increase student motivation to participate in extracurricular activities

#EducationalEscapeGame #GameBasedLearning #TeacherEducation #Digital Skills #Action Research


Hannes Birnkammerer, Patrick Urlbauer

The University of Passau uses DiLabEscape, an extracurricular educational escape room (EER), to give students the opportunity to reflect on their digitalization-related skills. The article presents the results of an action research project that analyzes the EER's advertising measures.

Digitalization is changing the teaching profession and thus also poses the challenge of introducing digitalization-related skills in the university phase of teacher education in order to enable future teachers to act competently themselves and to initiate media-critical, reflective educational processes among pupils (van Ackeren et al., 2019). However, research indicates that, despite existing support efforts, teacher education students do not consider themselves to be sufficiently competent in dealing with digital media (Rubach & Lazarides, 2019; longitudinal Zinn et al. 2022). At the same time, they appear to have a low average motivation for digital offerings in the area of teaching (Schmidt, Goertz, & Behrens, 2017), and there is little curricular leeway for adressing corresponding media-related pedagogical skills in teacher education. The University of Passau responded to this problem by offering extracurricular and student-supported courses (Open DiLab Hours), among other options, but in line with research, these were hardly ever attended (Althammer, 2022).

In order to increase students' motivation for such extracurricular activities, an Educational Escape Room (EER) - a "live-action team-based game in which players encounter challenges in order to complete a mission in a limited amount of time" (Veldkamp et al., 2020) - was designed, tested and has been offered since winter term 2023, giving students the opportunity to reflect on their digitalization-related skills in an engaging and reflective way (Veldkamp et al., 2020; López-Pernas, 2023). It is assumed that game-based formats increase students' motivation to participate in extracurricular events (Ryan & Rigby, 2019). 

This article examines the extent to which different advertising foci and measures had an influence on students' motivation to register for the event.


Within the framework of an action research project, various advertising measures were implemented: By billboarding, the EER was advertised as a game and with a focus on remuneration; it was advertised in a central basic lecture and its associated supplementary seminars and recalled with various emails; finally, an additional billboarding campaign without specific focus was launched (see fig. 1 for an illustration of the timeline). At the end of the game, participants were asked by questionnaire about the various advertising measures and their attributed influences on their own decision to participate in the EER. The response options ranged from 1 (very low attributed influence) to 5 (very high attributed influence) and an option that the advertising measure was not perceived at all.

Fig.1. advertising measures & game registrations over time.


Results (see data in table 1, attached to this article)

The foci influencing the decision to participate in the EER that were attributed to the respective advertising foci are shown in Fig. 2.

Fig.2. advertising foci and their attributed influence (n=24)

Looking at the results for the different focal points of the advertising measures, it can be seen that 66.7% of the responses attributed a high or very high influence on the decision to participate in the format to advertising as a game-based format. In contrast, 25.0% of the responses attributed a high or very high influence to the remuneration. 37.5% of responses attributed a low or very low influence to the remuneration on the decision to participate in the EER.

The influences on the decision to participate in the EER that were attributed to the respective advertising measures can be seen in Fig. 3.

Fig.3. advertising measures and their attributed influence (n=24)

With regard to the results on different advertising measures, it can be seen that advertising in the basic lecture and its accompanying seminars is assigned the highest influence (66.7% of responses indicate a high or very high influence), followed by personal recommendation by peers (54.2%). The advertising measures without direct personal contact in the form of posters (37.5%), on the Stud.IP learning management system (29.2%) and by direct message (8.4%) were assigned the lowest values in comparison. Correspondingly, these measures are most frequently assigned a low or very low influence on the motivation to participate in the extracurricular EER. In addition, these three advertising measures also have the highest proportion of responses stating that these forms of advertising were not noticed at all (neutral posters 25.0%, Stud.IP 29.2% and direct message 37.5%).

Discussion & Limitations

The results of our action research project indicate, on the one hand, that the game-based format had a favorable motivational effect on students' willingness to register for this extracurricular offer. Contrary to our expectations, this advertising focus was cited significantly more often as a decisive factor for participation than the remuneration (66.7% vs. 25.0%). In our opinion, this result can be explained by the very probable existence of a selection effect with regard to attributions of influence in relation to the game-based format. Nevertheless, we consider the distance to the attributed influence of one of the most typical forms of participant recruitment in research (monetary remuneration) in the course of our action research project to be an interesting result, in light of which we want to further develop the future advertising concept.

On the other hand, we believe that one result with regards to the forms of advertising measures is decisive for this, namely that the direct, personal approach - whether by lecturers or peers - was rated by the participants as significantly more influential for their own willingness to take up the extracurricular offer than the advertising measures that referred to the offer without direct personal contact (66.7% and 54.2% vs. 37.5%, 29.2% and 8.4%). For the further development of the advertising concept, we therefore want to focus primarily on direct personal contact.

In the future, it should be empirically verified whether the results can be replicated. Due to the small sample size, the significance of our findings is extremely limited and, in our opinion, should only be seen as an impetus for further development within our project and future research.