Academic literacy development in public relations through gamification

Project description

The project involves developing a self-paced, online course for first-year students to learn academic literacy in the context of public relations. This is to help students who are at risk of dropping out being unprepared for university demands, struggling with English as a second language and being first-generation university students (Motsabi, Diale and van Zyl, 2020; Van Zyl et al., 2020). To be inclusive of different learning styles and varying capacities for learning (Gargiulo and Metcalf, 2022), a relatable multi-media story of a public relations intern is told in a problem-based, online game-like design. Studies confirm that gamification stimulate socially motivated learning and is an effective engagement approach (Whitton and Langan, 2019; Hunsinger, 2021). Using scaffolded micro-learning episodes alongside game-based learning incentives, a virtual study-buddy also adds an element of fun. Following the advice of past studies, the online course meaningfully embeds academic literacy skills in the discipline of public relations instead a loose-standing intervention (Gunn, Hearne and Sibthorpe, 2011; Boughey and McKenna, 2016).

Embedding academic literacy in the discipline tend to be more meaningful compared academic literacy classes offered separately. To this end, students complained that loose-standing academic literacy classes were boring and resembled yet another English grammar lesson.

Project team

Prof Corne Meintjes, Prof Maritha Pritchard, Dr Hemali Joshi, Dr Arno Louw, Dr Graham Dampier, Mr Roberto Mabada


University of Johannesburg


Open and artificial pedagogy; gamification; self-paced; academic literacy; multimedia story