Havziu-Ismaili, B. et al. (2023). Learning through games and its impact on the development of student’s knowledge during
the pandemic period, International Journal of Cognitive Research in Science, Engineering and Education (IJCRSEE), 11(2),
Starting from the fact that play is an inseparable part of children’s lives, the way we can turn it into
a technique for learning has shown and shows interest from many different authors who try to introduce
innovations in the eld of education and children’s education (Stott and Neustaedter, 2013; Chang et
al., 2017; Yu, 2019). Play is believed to be the most effective and motivating method for learning which
can be applied in various forms. Therefore, we say that, when the game is well planned and oriented,
we can inuence in the incorporation of new concepts and students can develop and improve their skills
without losing the motivation to learn (Mubaslat, 20120). The COVID-19 pandemic in North Macedonia
and Kosovo affected the whole educational system, highlighting the lack of possibilities to use play as a
teaching method (Kyriazis et al., 2021). Students were educated through an online form, which was a very
unfamiliar form for teachers and s dents as well in North Macedonia and Kosovo. Even though children
faced some emotional and social difculties all over the world, a similar situation is described in the book
of Lovatt (2021) “Paper rainbows began to appear in windows, painted as a token of hope by children kept
indoors; but of children themselves, there was no sign” was happening in North Macedonia and Kosovo
as well. It was evident that teachers and students were trying to nd new alternatives of teaching and
As professionals on the eld, we were intrigued to analyze and research how much teachers
and parents as well have collaborated among themselves during pandemic period in order to introduce
different form of play/game as a technique of learning and teaching that can affect the overall success of
students during the learning process (Rogers, 2022).
Learning Through Games and Its Impact on the Development of
Student’s Knowledge During the Pandemic Period
Besa Havziu-Ismaili
, Aneta Barakoska
, Lulzim Memedi
, Teuta Ramadni Rasimi
University of Tetova - Faculty of Pedagogy, Republic of North Macedonia,
e-maill: besa.havziu@unite.edu.mk; lulzim.memedi@unite.edu.mk; teuta.rasimi@unite.edu.mk
University St. Cyril and Methodius, Skopje, Faculty of Philosophy, Institute of Pedagogy, Republic of North Macedonia,
e-maill: anetabarakoska@gmail.com
Abstract: Learning through play in the teaching process is a technique that has received a lot of attention since play
itself increases the focus of students, and develops memory, creativity, and creative skills in students. However, the COVID-19
pandemic period was a very challenging period for every character included in the educational system, where many techniques
used with physical presence were evaporated, or transformed in another form, as played through gamication. The objective of
our research was to analyze the level and form of implementation of games as a teaching technique during COVID-19 in primary
schools, among teachers N=120, students N=80 from I do 5
grade, and parents N=100 in Kosovo and North Macedonia.
Results showed that there is a strong correlation of the implementation of games as a technique by parents and teachers in
the implementation of the pandemic and the students learning and mental health, respectively their learning success has risen
and their mental health was improved.
Keywords: play, strategy, knowledge, teaching, learning activities, parents, mental health.
Review article
Received: March, 17, 2023.
Revised: April, 30.2023.
Accepted: July, 05.2023.
© 2023 by the authors. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the
Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Corresponding author: besa.havziu@unite.edu.mk
Havziu-Ismaili, B. et al. (2023). Learning through games and its impact on the development of student’s knowledge during
the pandemic period, International Journal of Cognitive Research in Science, Engineering and Education (IJCRSEE), 11(2),
The learning process and gaming/play
Learning through play is a continuum that brings together the spheres of children’s lives such as:
home, school and the wider world over time. Play is a natural activity of children which helps to understand
the development and views of children. As children become mature they are able to represent their needs
mentally and use the thinking process to create motivations for play (Vig, 2007). Children should have
opportunities to explore with different materials and objects because this opportunity develops children’s
creativity. Children’s play is connected to the objects and materials they play with. They contain the
meaning, form and technique of the activity through the game. Therefore, the right choice of game
affects the good education of children. In order to fulll this multiple function, the game must fulll a
multitude of pedagogical requirements, must respond to the educational purpose with content and form,
must be accessible to children, must stimulate children’s interest, inuence the development of creativity,
personality etc (2010).
Through play, the child grows, develops, learns new habits. Play is the best way to put them on a
good path in the difcult and long learning process. Gaming as form of play in general and game-based
learning in particular have the potential to turn learning into a challenge.In the last decade there is a new
term “gamication” which has been dened by some author (Nieto-Escamez and Roldan-Tapia, 2021)
as the use of game elements in non-entertainment contexts to promote learning.Through play can be
introduced concepts and students can develop and improve their skills without losing motivation. The game
creates the foundation of reading and writing. Gamication pursues the use of game design elements to
create engaging and motivating experiences (Lister, 2015). There are countless skills that students can
develop through play such as critical thinking skills, creativity, teamwork and good sportsmanship. They
can also create a positive memory and learning experience for students in the classroom.A game is one of
the easiest ways to engage students, capturing their attention and making learning fun (Havziu, Memedi
and Ameti, 2017).
Learning through play creates the possibility of a comprehensive approach to the learning process
as the student seeks to learn independently and consciously (Glenn, Cousins and Helps, 2006). The
game attracts even shy children, who in other situations would not participate in the tasks assigned
by the teacher, because most of them prefer to use mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets
(Krouska, Troussas and Sgouropoulou, 2021). Equally important for the learning process is the denition
and clarication of rules of the game/play. They should be simple, clear, accepted by students and should
not become an obstacle to the progress and ow of the game. We must be very careful to respect the
age of the students and the level of skills in the selection of the game, because otherwise, the students
would lose interest and the game would have no effect. The literature (Toda et al., 2019) show that there
are three main concerns regarding this topic: (a) instructors and teachers does not have the resources to
plan and develop gamication strategies into their classes; (b) gamication needs a systematic approach
to achieve the desired positive results; (c) inexistence of systematic approaches that connect and help in
the design of gamication and social network tasks within these contexts. The game focuses on solving
problems. The search for a solution to the problem stimulates the diversity of teachers’ perspectives
and pushes the student towards productive, creative and not merely reproductive thinking (Adachi and
Willoughby, 2013). According to Manzano-Leo et al. (2022) among the most used elements in educational
gamications are PBL (Points, Badges and Leaderboard), avatars and narratives.
The role of teachers in the process of gamication
COVID 19 pandemic era changed the carriers of educational system, the teachers. In developed
countries the burden of online teaching cannot be compared with the burden of teachers from developing
countries. During the rst wave of the pandemic, the governments of the included countries (North
Macedonia and Kosovo) supported the educational system in different ways, like broadcasting on
national television or national education information network (Korez, et al., 2021). If in some developed
Havziu-Ismaili, B. et al. (2023). Learning through games and its impact on the development of student’s knowledge during
the pandemic period, International Journal of Cognitive Research in Science, Engineering and Education (IJCRSEE), 11(2),
countries researches showed that the online teaching process with the process of gamication has
elevated stress and anxiety in teaching staff, and made pressure to change approaches to teaching
and assessment to achieve the highest score (Lakeman, et al., 2022), there are little evidence (Miftari,
Dzogovic and Zdravkovska-Adamova, 2021; World Bank, 2020) how teachers in North Macedonia and
Kosovo have experienced these, except for higher education (Krasniqi and Shabani, 2022; Leskova,
2021). In addition, even though social distancing has been accompanied by online interaction thanks
to continuous advances in digital technologies, it requires educator to work to nd ways of increasing
students’ motivation and engagements (Nieto-Escamez and Roldan-Tapia, 2021), which is why the
teachers attitudes toward it is very important. There are some research (Marti-Parreno, Segui-Mas and
Segui-Mas, 2016) that have shown a difference of attitudes between teachers from public settlements
and private settlements, respectively they found that there is a signicant more positive attitude towards
gamication for teachers serving in private universities then in public universities. We can speculate from
reviewing different literature that teachers negative attitude could be as a result of lack of recourses, and
it has been underlined in several researchers (Asifayanti, Weda and Abduh, 2020).
The importance of implementing the strategy through the game lies in the fact that the information
must be given in an appropriate way. Activities through play in order to be more effective in learning and
teaching must be structured according to pedagogical rules and processes. Each activity must meet these
criteria: activities through play should be well balanced with fun in learning, the activity must be planned
with dedication and care in order to involve teachers and students in the activities, the content of the
activity should be an integral part of the game, teachers must give the necessary instructions, ensure that
the activity through the game develops according to the rules and that there is tolerance and cooperation
among the students, also, the teacher must provide the conditions for all students to be an active part in the
organized activity (Xhajkovska, 2016). There is some consideration that teachers should consider before
presenting an activity through game, respectively the teacher must know the baggage of knowledge of
the students choosing the game, they must decide the purpose of the game in order to make them useful.
When choosing the game, a basic aspect that teachers should consider before explaining is that students
must understand exactly how to play the game, because they may need to adapt it to the level and age of
the students and this will be more difcult if the rules are not clear (Bodrova and Leong, 2003). Interruption
of the game should be as rare as possible, so as not to reduce the interest of the students in the game.
The role of parents in the child’s play/gaming
Parents play an important role in a child’s life. Parents who play with their children form a stronger
bond with them. These interactions provide positive life experiences that stimulate children’s brain
development. Happy, enjoyable moments are some of the most precious gifts parents can give their
children. Therefore, it is important to prepare daily activities through play with children, get involved
in family activities and create a corner for the child to play (Balaj, 2019). When parents are active in
children’s learning and development, the role of play will be more effective (Havziu and Rasimi, 2015).
Primary caregivers are their children’s rst teachers. They should be an integral part of school because
they can contribute and also learn and apply key strategies at home – so it is important to support parents
and provide them with safe tools to implement learning through play at home.
There are many ways parents can stimulate children’s development through nurturing care,
conversation and storytelling, and by teaching life skills and providing time and materials for enriched
play (UNICEF, 2018). Parents should provide a safe environment and plenty of opportunities for play and
learning. The more play and learning activities that take place in the home environment - such as reading
books, stories, singing, playing, learning letters and numbers and other activities - the more advanced
the child’s development and learning. Through play activities at home, parents help children develop
self-condence and life skills, encouraging their creativity through various games. It is better for the child
to choose the game he wants to play, where through it he creates a sense of emotional security which
enables growth and development (Kraja, 2012). As can be seen, parents have an important inuence
Havziu-Ismaili, B. et al. (2023). Learning through games and its impact on the development of student’s knowledge during
the pandemic period, International Journal of Cognitive Research in Science, Engineering and Education (IJCRSEE), 11(2),
on the growth and development of children, and yet when we talk about play, the role of the parent is
somewhat more passive. We must not forget that the game is an activity created and that belongs only to
children, so they are the only ones who will guide us in their game (Xhemali and Çeça, 2019). However,
the pandemic period encountered many unprepared parents to meet the challenge of digitalization, and
therefore gamication (Amzalog, 2021). There has been increase of researchers that have investigated
the beliefs of parents towards these processes (Hanghoj and Brund, 2010; Bourgonjon et al., 2011;
Hidayat, 2022), and according to Hidayat (2022), there is a contradictory attitudes of parents regarding
the digitalization and gamication, respectively many parents allow their children to have screen time
and even facilitate their children with gadgets but main concern for the children’s game-time is the lack of
social interaction, health issues, and digital addiction.
Materials and Methods
The literature review raised many questions towards the situation in North Macedonia and Kosovo,
which intrigued us to carry a research were the main objective was analyze the level of cooperation
of parents and teacher during the pandemic period while incorporatinggamication as a technique that
affects the overall success of students during the learning process and its correlation to students learning
and their mental health. To answer this objective, we dened one general hypothesis:implementation
of the game by parents and teachers in the period of the pandemic has had a positive impact on the
students’ learning and their mental health.The main variable was the use of gamication as predictor, and
criterion variable were the involvement of teachers, of parents and students metal health related to their
learning success.
To carry the research, it was used a different approach of research, starting with the theoretical
analysis of literature review and comparative method, since the results were compared between Kosovo
and North Macedonia, and statistical methodwith descriptive and inferential statistic, as Pearson
correlation and t-test.
Techniques and instruments needed for this research included a questionnaire as a measuring
instrument for teachers and parents, as well as an interview dedicated to students of the lower cycle in
primary education.
Sample/population - The research was focused on eight primary schools in Kosovo and Macedonia,
which comprise two groups of teachers, parents and students, overal N=300.This sample was comprised
by 120 teachers (60 from RNM and 60 from Kosovo) and 100 parents from 16 schools, as well as 80
students. This research involved teachers who work with students from class I to class V and the parents
of these students.
In this mini chapter we present the results regarding the main hypothesis “ The implementation of
the game by parents and teachers in the period of the pandemic, has had a positive effect on the students’
learning and their mental health “ by using correlation analysis with Pearson’s assess the correlation of
use of gamication with student’s success.
Table 1. Pearson correlation
Havziu-Ismaili, B. et al. (2023). Learning through games and its impact on the development of student’s knowledge during
the pandemic period, International Journal of Cognitive Research in Science, Engineering and Education (IJCRSEE), 11(2),
Based on the table nr.1, the results show that there is a signicant positive strong relationship
between “Teachers’ Game Learning Strategy during the Pandemic” and “Students’ Success during the
Pandemic” (r=.695**, p<0.01) for Kosovo, and there is a signicant moderate positive relationship between
“Learning strategy through play by teachers” and “Success of students during the pandemic” (r=.528**,
p<0.01) for Macedonia. This means that when teachers have used game strategies during the pandemic,
student success has also increased in both states.
To see if there are differences of level of use of gamication related to the place of residence,
we calculated the t-test for differences of means, and the results presented on table 2 show that there
are signicant differences on the level of use of gamication between teachers of North Macedonia and
Kosovo, respectively the t (58)= 3.214, p=.000, where M for Kosovian is 4,24 while North Macedonia M is
3.84. These results highlighted the higher level of gamication used among students by teachers in the
teaching and learning process in Kosovo schools, compared to North Macedonia.
Table 2. t- test analysis
We continued with in-depth analysis for parent’s involvement on gamication of teaching process
correlated to student’s success, and again we used Pearson correlation to assess the level of correlation
between the two variables on table 3.
Table 3. Pearson correlation
Based on the table 3 above, the results show that there is a signicant moderate positive relationship
between “ Parental engagement during the pandemic period” and “Children’s success (r=.557**, p<0.01)
for Kosovo and a strong positive relationship between “ Parents’ engagement during the pandemic period”
and “Children’s success “ (r=668**, p<0.01) for Macedonia.
We continued with calculation of differences of level of parental involvement on gamication related
to their settlement, respectively between North Macedonia and Kosovo, by using t-test for differences
of means. The results presented on table 4 show that there are signicant differences on parental
involvement because t (38)= 3.595, p=.000 is for Kosovo with M 3.21, while t (38)= 4.112, p=.000 for North
Macedonia with M 3.61. These results highlighted the higher level of gamication used among parents in
North Macedonia compared to Kosovo.
Table 4. T-test analysis
Havziu-Ismaili, B. et al. (2023). Learning through games and its impact on the development of student’s knowledge during
the pandemic period, International Journal of Cognitive Research in Science, Engineering and Education (IJCRSEE), 11(2),
In the main hypothesis we underlined as well as the mental health of students related to gamication
of the learning process. In order to test this variable as well, we calculated Pearson coefcient for
correlation of level of gamication and student’s mental health, which is presented in table 5.
Table 5. Pearson correlation
Based on the table above, the results show that there is a strong positive signicant relationship
between “Implementation of the game by students during the pandemic” and “Mental health” (r=.668**,
p<0.01) for Kosovo and there is also a signicant moderate positive relationship between “Implementation
of the game by students during the pandemic” and “Mental health (r=.557**, p<0.01) for Macedonia.
Qualitative data
To ensure more subjective data of the research, we carried on an interview with students from
Kosovo and North Macedonian schools, and to follow up the results we present most common statements,
starting with the mental health of the students, where they were asked to discuss how the implementation
of gamication had affected their wellbeing, and most of the respondents underlined that in general use
game in their spare time, thus using games just made them very happy.
- During distance learning when teachers used activities through games such as quizzes,
competitions between groups, imaginary games, etc. How did you feel about these activities?
- The most frequent statement was that during the pandemic period the activities and games that
their teachers have prepared to facilitate distance learning have had a positive impact on their mental
health as well as the development of knowledge and skills.
The second theme of the interview was regarding the learning process, and how much gamication
have helped or hampered this process, and in general by using games during online classes increased
their motivation and simplied the tasks for them, which enabled them to overcome learning difculties.
- What games did your teachers organize with you during the pandemic period and did they help
you overcome difculties in learning?
- Most of them stated that their teachers have organized various games during the pandemic,
such as quizzes, activities related to learning units, association games, and physical activities through the
projector, and this has helped them a lot in overcoming any difculties they had.
The third theme was regarding the involvement of parents in the process of gamication and how
this collaboration has affected them, and the vast of the respondents addressed as positive points the
involvement of parents and the biggest supporters. However, there were a considerable number of parents
that were working online as well during the online classes, and they pointed out the mismanagement in
that time with the parents.
- How much do you think the game has affected you and who has helped you during the pandemic?
- The answers received were that the game and the activities through it have had a positive effect
on them and have helped them to remove stress and negative thoughts, and they emphasized the role of
parents as well in this process and their collaboration with teachers.
The last theme was regarding the use of gamication during their leisure time, which was their
favorite topic to talk about, since the whole world was using the pandemic time for online promotion. The
majority have used different online educational games that have discovered during this period, and their
attitudes were positive.
- Have you implemented any games at home?
Havziu-Ismaili, B. et al. (2023). Learning through games and its impact on the development of student’s knowledge during
the pandemic period, International Journal of Cognitive Research in Science, Engineering and Education (IJCRSEE), 11(2),
- They have implemented various games with parents, sisters or brother, such as the bowling
game where they have placed some bottles and a ball and through hitting the bottles they learned how to
subtract numbers.
After extracting the results, we can conrm the raised hypothesis, that implementation of the game
by parents and teachers in the period of the pandemic is strongly correlated with students’ learning and
their mental health, since there were two signicant correlation with the process of gamication, teachers
involvement and parents involvement. Even though, we must underline the difference among teacher’s
involvement, that were higher for Kosovian, in other side parents from North Macedonia showed higher
preparedness for involving in the process of gamication. Nevertheless, both variables were strongly
correlated to student’s success like it has been documented in many other research (Adachi and
Willoughby, 2013; Amzalog, 2021; Mubaslat, 2012; Ye et al., 2022), respectively as more teachers have
used gamication in the teaching process, the learning success of students has risen. Most likely that
through play, children connect more with parents, so the time spent with them brings positive effects both
physical and psychological, as has been shown in some research (Calandri, Cattelino and Graziano,
2022). In addition, students spend 1/3 of the day in school, so by using gamication teachers contribute
to students’wellbeing as well, which is why the qualitative data from the interview of our research with
the students was positive regarding the gamication during the teaching process, and its positive effect
on overcoming the learning difculties, as well the involvement of parents in this process, which can be
found in on other researches (Almusharraf, 2021; Mariano and Cordova, 2022). In North Macedonia
and Kosovo the pandemic era was a changing era of digitalization of the educational system, even
though teachers and parents weren’t prepare, it has had highly positive effect on changing the mindset
of teachers. By learning new techniuques and apps they were able to to be up to date with the western
system of schooling. Thus, we strongly hope that these results will intrigue other researchers from North
Macedonia and Kosovo to widen their scope of research in the bigger sample and draw recommendations
that can make policymakers change the educational system, a system that will seek to apply research
based techniques of teaching.
Conict of interests
The authors declare no conict of interest.
We would like to express our gratittue to everyone who participated on this research, for their
invaluable input and support throughout the research process. Everyones insights and expertise were
instrumental in shaping the direction of this project.
Author Contributions
Conceptualization, B.H. I. and A.B.; Resources, L. M. and A.B.; Methodology, B.H.I. and T.R.R
.; Investigation, T.R.R. and L. M.; Data curation, B.H.I.; Formal Analysis, A.B. and T.R.R.; Writing
original draft, B.H.I. and A.B. ; Writing review & editing, B.H.I. and L.M. All authors have read and
agreed to the published version of the manuscript.
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