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IES Grant

Title: Improving Student Learning and Engagement Through Gamified Instruction: Evaluation of iPersonalize
Center: NCER Year: 2017
Principal Investigator: Klute, Mary Awardee: Marzano Research
Program: Low-Cost, Short-Duration Evaluation of Education Interventions      [Program Details]
Award Period: 1 1/2 years (7/1/2017-12/31/2018) Award Amount: $221,517
Type: Efficacy Award Number: R305L170006

Co-Principal Investigators: Robert Pletka (Fullerton School District); Trudy Cherasaro (Marzano Research)

Partner Institutions: Marzano Research; Fullerton School District

Purpose: Research shows that 72 percent of youth are engaged in computer gaming after the school day ends. Because of its appeal to students, gaming has increasingly been incorporated into education technology used in classrooms. The present study investigates the impact of iPersonalize, a personalized gamified learning environment developed by the Fullerton School District, on student engagement and student achievement.

Project Activities: Fullerton School District will handle implementation of the iPersonalize intervention and data collection. The data will then be sent to Marzano Research for analysis. Through in-person meetings and monthly conference calls, the partners will collaborate to ensure the study progresses as planned. The partners will work together to disseminate study results.

Products: Separate reports will be prepared for researcher and practitioner audiences. The research team, in partnership with the school district, will disseminate preliminary results to the Fullerton School District administration. Papers will be presented at research and practitioner conferences and will be submitted for publication in peer-reviewed journals.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The study will take place in the Fullerton School District, a suburban district located in southern California that serves 13,700 students in grades K–8 across its fifteen elementary schools, three junior high schools, and two K–8 schools. The student population is racially, ethnically, and economically diverse.

Population/Sample: The sample is 40 grade-6 teachers and approximately 1250 students from 14 of the district's 17 elementary and K–8 schools. Students are racially and ethnically diverse (48 percent Hispanic, 16 percent Asian, 25 percent White). Over 40 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches; and 23 percent of students are identified as English language learners. Representing 80 percent of grade-6 students districtwide, results from this sample can be generalized to grade-6 students in the district as a whole.

Intervention: iPersonalize is a personalized gamified learning environment developed by Fullerton School District. iPersonalize responds to the abilities, needs, and interests of individual students through a strategic blend of whole-group, small-group, and individualized instruction delivered both in person and online. Instruction is aligned to California Content Standards in reading, language, and writing.

Research Design and Methods: The proposed study will be a randomized controlled trial. Because the intervention involves instruction delivered at the classroom level, the unit of randomization will be the teacher.  Twenty teachers will be randomly assigned to the treatment group and 20 teachers will be randomly assigned to a waitlist control group. For the first trimester, only the treatment teachers will use iPersonalize in their classrooms; after the first trimester of the school year, the teachers in the control group will begin to use iPersonalize.  

Control Condition: During the first trimester of the first year of the study, control teachers will teach English Language Arts (ELA) using business-as-usual instruction. After the trimester is over and posttest assessments have been administered, teachers in the control group will begin to use iPersonalize to teach ELA standards.

Key Measures: In this study, student scores on two districtwide benchmark assessments (i-Ready Diagnostic and My Access! School Edition) and one districtwide survey of student engagement (the YouthTruth Feedback for Teachers Survey) will be used as the outcome variables.

Data Analytic Strategy: To address the primary research questions concerning the impact of iPersonalize on student achievement in ELA (research question 1) and student engagement (research question 2), the researchers will use a multilevel model that compares outcomes for students taught by treatment and control group teachers. The researchers will use a multilevel mediation model to address the third primary research question of whether engagement mediates the impact of the intervention.