Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.

The Case of the Disengaged Learner

Karl Kapp (Bloomsburg University )

B. F. Skinner Lecture Series Paper




Karl M. Kapp, Ed.D., is an award-winning professor of Instructional Technology at Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, PA. where he teaches instructional game design, gamification classes and online learning design.  He is the Director of Bloomsburg’s Institute for Interactive Technologies and is recognized internationally as an expert in the application of games, game-thinking and gamification to learning.  Karl earned his doctoral degree from the University of Pittsburgh.

He is currently a senior researcher on a grant sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) which involves the application of microlearning and gamification to help childcare workers identify child abuse. Karl has co-founder of Enterprise Game Stack, a company that has created a digital card game tool for instructional designers. He is also the creator of the popular web video series, “The Unauthorized, Unofficial History of Learning Game.”

Karl has authored or co-authored eight books including The Gamification of Learning and Instruction, its accompanying fieldbook and the widely popular, Play to Learn. His latest co-authored book with Robyn Defelice is Microlearning: Short and Sweet. Karl is author of ten LinkedIn Learning courses including Learning How to Increase Learner Engagement and has been a TEDx speaker. In 2019, he received the ATD Distinguished Contribution to Talent Development Award. The award is presented in recognition of an exceptional contribution that has had a sustained impact on field of the talent development.

Karl’s academic and practitioner work explores the research, theoretical foundations and practical application of gamification, game-thinking and activity-based learning to organizational performance issues. His goal is to help organizations create engaging learning experiences through intelligent, research-based application of instructional strategies and techniques. He shares his expertise and knowledge through consulting, workshops and one-on-one mentoring with start-up firms, Fortune 100 companies and various governmental agencies. Follow him on Twitter @kkapp or check out his website at



Engaging learners is a difficult task. They are constantly confronted with distractions and demands on their time. So how can we create instruction that pulls learners into the content and helps them gain the knowledge required to be successful? How do we grab and hold a learner's attention? How do we motivate them to engage with the content we are teaching? There are techniques and factors that can be borrowed from games which are shown to influence the behavior of individuals. Incorporating these techniques and factors from games into learning is often called “gamification.” This decidedly unacademic presentation will model using those technique to engage and educate the learners. Attendees will discover firsthand how research-based practices and game-thinking are used to engage learners, increase learning, and lead to performance driven results.


Modifed by Eddie Soh