Training is a key resource for fostering knowledge as a competitive asset. As in other fields, in learning, innovation emerges with disruptive methods such as gamification. Serious games are a proven efficient training method based on the incorporation of traditional elements of games, such as entertainment, into learning. But as with any other innovation, people must be willing to use the new method. The use of even a proven serious game will not have any positive effect if students do not accept it. It is thus essential to analyze the intention to use serious games in management training contexts. This research uses an adapted CAN (Cognitive-Affective-Normative) model to explore the intention to use a serious game – Lego© Serious Play© – in a sample of higher-education students in their capacity as future professionals. The results show that the most critical factor influencing the intention to use serious games is expected learning performance. The proposed model opens a new methodology for studying the behavioral intention to use other innovative management-training methods and to enrich the deployment of serious game training strategies in management education.
Today management education needs to go beyond traditional teaching models (Sierra, 2020). Among the new emerging methods, the use of gamification is on the rise (e.g., Papert, 1990; Said, Roos & Statler, 2001; Kampker, Deutskens, Deutschmann, Maue, & Haunreiter, 2014; Al-Azawi, Al-Faliti, & Al-Blushi, 2016; Dichev & y Dicheva, 2017). Its growing importance is reflected in gamification market forecasts. One recent study estimates that the gamification market will be worth 11.94 billion dollars by 2021 (Business Wire, 2017). Gamification has a positive effect on learning at all ages, providing important benefits, such as facilitating knowledge and skills acquisition (Sierra, 2020), the development of higher cognitive abilities (Bernabeu & Goldstein, 2009) or increased motivational and engagement levels in students (Buil, Catalán, & Martínez, 2019; Lazzaro, 2004; McGonigal, 2011; Yee, 2006). In one survey, 89% of U.S. workers said gamification had probably improved their productivity at work (TalentLMS, 2019), testimony to the positive perception of these innovative learning methods.
Unlike other types of games, whose primary purpose is pure entertainment, the main goal of serious games is learning (Abt, 1970). Specifically, serious games are intended for training and skills development and/or for educational purposes or to effect attitudinal and behavioral change (Ge & Ifenthaler, 2017). Serious games are one of the gamification learning methods with the highest performance expectancy (De Gloria, Bellotti & Berta, 2014; Tsekleves, 2014), and they can potentially be used across a wide range of educational and training contexts (Boyle et al., 2016) and a variety of industries, such as cosmetics, technology or defense (Allal-Chérif & Bidan, 2017). They have been proven to facilitate and energize the learning process, as their use can increase the level of interest in learning and enhance both creativity and emotional intelligence. Learning by gaming fosters an active, experiential form of learning that allows students to achieve superior performance compared to other passive, non-innovative methodologies (Corriveau, 2020). Gamification also promotes social skills, facilitating interaction and empowering students to play an active role in their own learning process (Deterding, Sicart, Nacke, O'Hara & Dixon, 2011). In addition to these benefits, serious games have a proven ability to facilitate the development of skills, abilities and attitudes (Kapp, 2012) due to their focus on problem-solving, to which players are exposed.