Problem of Practice

Recent research on classroom engagement has shown that students throughout the United States suffer a significant and alarming decline when they enter middle school, with student interest and engagement continuing to fall until graduation. In fact, according to a 2017 Gallup poll of more than 3,000 different schools across the country, 74 percent of fifth graders feel engaged by school, while only 32 percent of high school juniors feel the same way (Calderon & Lu, 2017). To overcome this challenge, many teachers have adopted new and unorthodox strategies to keep their students engaged, such as incorporating game elements into the classroom. This pedagogical strategy is called gamification, and educators who use this technique believe it motivates their students by harnessing their enthusiasm for playing games and by providing a tangible means for students to track their own progress. Unfortunately, while preliminary research on gamification has shown considerable promise for engagement and content acquisition, while preliminary research on gamification has been mixed in regard to how it influences engagement and content acquisition, there has been little to no research regarding its effect on other dimensions of childhood development . This is a significant knowledge gap because decades of research on teaching and learning have advised against relying on extrinsic motivators, but gamification functions by expanding the external reward system. Thus, if bringing gamification into the classroom makes routine tasks more enjoyable, will it then become harder for students to persevere when tasks become difficult? To date, no studies have specifically addressed this question, which means there is a critical need for research on gamification that goes beyond the traditional measures of content acquisition and engagement to directly identify its impact on the development of grit.