There is no argument that using games (gamification) is an efficient way of learning in higher education. The questions, though, are which gamification approach is most suitable at that level and how to assess its suitability? This paper aims to attempt to partially answer these two questions, in the context of lean thinking education.


The paper offers an assessment criteria to investigate the impact of lean gamification based on the evaluation of motivational, cognitive and social processing during games. In addition, a study is conducted among selected games using these assessment criteria. The study included statistical as well as comparative analysis. The study was based on a sample of undergraduate students learning various lean thinking concepts through physical games over the course of six months.


Results showed different interaction levels between the three evaluation criteria depending on the type and design of the lean game. The reported scores and analysis drew various lessons on how to use gamification in the context of lean teaching, outlined some best practices in lean games design and suggested recommendations in mapping lean games from industrial domain to higher education domain.

Research limitations/implications

The scope of this research was bounded by the sample size of students as well as the selected nine lean thinking games. Larger pool of students as well as other lean thinking games can offer further insights and confirm the outlined ones.

Practical implications

The presented work will help lean thinking educators in higher education to better understand the student dynamics associated with engaging them in this type pf pedagogical approach. It will help guiding lean thinking games’ designer on how to better cater for this segment of lean thinking learners. Finally, it will aid in promoting lean gamification as an effective learning tool.

Social implications

The social impact is achieved through enhancing lean thinking education to a wide number of students. This will positively impact the society through the application of the effective lean tools at different stages, levels and places in these students’ life experiences.


This study offers one of the very few applications in gamification assessment in the context of lean thinking. Furthermore, it integrates the social processing criterion for the first time with the classical two other criteria (motivation and cognitive) used in games education assessment. Finally, it offers new insights for lean thinking game designers for higher education learners.


Industrial Technology

Number of Pages


Publisher statement

The definitive version is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/IJLSS-04-2016-0017.



URL: https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/it_fac/100