WWC review of this study

A feasibility study and a pilot cluster randomised controlled trial of the PAX 'Good Behaviour Game' in disadvantaged schools [Doctoral dissertation, Queen's University Belfast].

O'Keeffe, J. (2019). Queen's University Belfast Repository. https://pure.qub.ac.uk/en/studentTheses/a-feasibility-study-and-a-pilot-cluster-randomised-controlled-tri.

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
    , grade

Reviewed: February 2023

No statistically significant positive
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Intrapersonal Competencies outcomes—Indeterminate effect found for the domain
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

Child Self-Control Rating Scale, based on student report

Good Behavior Game vs. Business as usual

2 Weeks

Full sample;
355 students





Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, based on student report

Good Behavior Game vs. Business as usual

2 Weeks

Full sample;
350 students





Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

  • 4% English language learners

  • Female: 52%
    Male: 48%

  • Suburban, Urban
    • B
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  • Race
    Other or unknown
  • Ethnicity
    Not Hispanic or Latino    
    Other or unknown    
  • Eligible for Free and Reduced Price Lunch
    Free or reduced price lunch (FRPL)    
    No FRPL    


The study took place in 17 schools near Belfast, Northern Ireland. Two schools dropped out of the study before its conclusion, thereby leaving 15 schools in the study.

Study sample

A total of 355 Primary 3 students ages 6 through 8 were included in the study. The 355 students were taught by 19 teachers in 15 schools. Approximately 48 percent of the students were male, 4 percent were English learners, and 30 percent had a special educational need. Additionally, 96 percent were White, 1 percent were Black, less than 1 percent were Asian, and 2 percent were multiple races or not specified. The researchers randomly assigned 9 schools to the intervention group and 8 schools to the comparison group and 2 schools, 1 in each group, left the study before its conclusion.

Intervention Group

The PAX Good Behavior Game (PAX GBG) is a behavioral classroom management intervention that promotes students collaborating together to create a positive learning environment. Intervention teachers delivered PAX GBG in their classrooms by placing all their students into teams (typically 3 to 5 teams per classroom). At the end of each game, the teacher rewarded the teams that demonstrated appropriate behaviors during game play. Rewards included nonmaterial, age-specific prizes such as breaks, quiet time, and time for students to listen to music. The amount of time students spent playing each game ranged from 10 minutes to 40 minutes with the time increasing as students became more familiar with the game. Students played PAX GBG 3 times per day over a 12-week period in the classrooms participating in the study.

Comparison Group

Students in the comparison group received business-as-usual instruction and did not play PAX GBG until after the study concluded.

Support for implementation

Teachers in the intervention group attended 2 days of PAX GBG trainings and received a teacher pack with the materials necessary to implement the intervention, including the game manual, scoreboard, prize booklet, and digital timer. During the 12-week implementation, the trainers visited intervention classrooms to provide support to intervention teachers and conduct class observations to ensure program delivery met the criteria specified by the developer and the PAX Partner Trainers.


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