Fun and games in higher education: an analysis of UK student perspectives

Nicola Whitton*, Mark Langan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


In an increasingly neoliberal Higher Education sector, there is increased pressure on institutions to enhance learner engagement and student satisfaction. Many academics believe that students expect their university learning experiences to be enjoyable, and discourses of game-based learning reflect this, with a dominant narrative highlighting the fun of educational games. Whether students expect learning to be fun or see a relationship between fun and games is under-explored. To address this, we investigated student perceptions of fun in Higher Education using a thematic network analysis based on data from 37 in-depth interviews with undergraduate students. Here, we highlight five themes that encapsulate what students perceive to be a fun learning experience: stimulating pedagogy; lecturer engagement; a safe learning space; shared experience; and a low-stress environment. These aspects are not unique to games, and we conclude by considering the relationship between educational games and fun, and alternative playful approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1000-1013
Number of pages14
JournalTeaching in Higher Education
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes

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