Reflecting on gamified learning in medical education: a systematic literature review grounded in the Structure of Observed Learning Outcomes (SOLO) taxonomy 2012—2022

Wenhao David Huang, Viktoria Loid, Jung Sun Sung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The acquisition of in-depth medical knowledge, skills, and competencies is of utmost importance when training future medical professionals. This systematic literature review delves into the empirical connection between gamified learning in medical education and the Structure of Observed Learning Outcomes (SOLO) taxonomy. Methods: Following PRISMA guidelines, a systematic literature review was conducted in seven databases to identify empirical studies related to gamification and medical education. The literature search was limited to peer-reviewed articles published between January 2012 and December 2022. Articles focusing on games or learning technologies in a broader sense as well as research focusing on nursing or pharmacy education were excluded. Results: Upon reviewing 23 qualified empirical studies that applied gamified learning strategies in medical education, 18 (78%) studies are associated with the second lowest level (uni-structural) of the SOLO taxonomy. The mid-level (multi-structural) learning outcomes are associated with three (13%) of the reviewed studies. There are five (22%) studies focusing on the second highest (relational) level of the SOLO. Only one study (4%) is associated with the highest SOLO level (extended-abstract). Finally, three (13%) studies were identified with multiple levels of the SOLO. In addition to the SOLO levels, the review found six (26%) studies emphasizing motivational and engagement support of gamified learning strategies in facilitating intended learning outcome attainment. A total of three (13%) studies, across three SOLO levels, suggested that gamified learning strategies can improve students’ soft skills in medical education programs. Conclusion: These findings collectively emphasize the need for future research and development to design gamified learning experiences capable of fostering higher SOLO taxonomy attainment in medical education. Moreover, there is potential to extend the SOLO framework to encompass motivational and affective learning outcomes, providing a comprehensive understanding of the impact of gamified learning on medical students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 3 2024


  • Gamification
  • Gamified learning
  • Learning outcomes
  • Medical education
  • SOLO taxonomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


Dive into the research topics of 'Reflecting on gamified learning in medical education: a systematic literature review grounded in the Structure of Observed Learning Outcomes (SOLO) taxonomy 2012—2022'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this