Business & Information Systems Engineering

Document Type

Research Paper


Municipal waste sorting is an important but neglected topic within sustainability-oriented Information Systems research. Most waste management systems depend on the quality of their citizens pre-sorting but lack teaching resources. Thus, it is important to raise awareness and knowledge on correct waste sorting to strengthen current efforts. Having shown promising results in raising learning outcomes and motivation in domains like health and economics, gamification is an auspicious approach to address this problem. The paper explores the effectiveness of gameful design on learning outcomes of waste sorting knowledge with a mobile game app that implements two different learning strategies: repetition and elaboration. In a laboratory experiment, the overall learning outcome of participants who trained with the game was compared to that of participants who trained with standard analogue non-game materials. Furthermore, the effects of two additional, learning-enhancing design elements – repetition and look-up – were analyzed. Learning outcome in terms of long-term retention and knowledge transfer were evaluated through three different testing measures two weeks after the training: in-game, through a multiple-choice test and real-life sorting. The results show that the game significantly enhanced the learning outcome of waste sorting knowledge for all measures, which is particularly remarkable for the real-life measure, as similar studies were not successful with regard to knowledge transfer to real life. Furthermore, look-up is found to be a promising game design element that is not yet established in IS literature and therefore should be considered more thoroughly in future research and practical implementations alike.