SOURCE: Marzano Research

Marzano Research

June 29, 2017 12:13 ET

Marzano Awarded IES Grant to Study Gamified Education

CENTENNIAL, CO--(Marketwired - June 29, 2017) - Marzano Research on Monday was awarded an Institute of Education Sciences (IES) grant to evaluate the effects of gamified instruction on student engagement and achievement. The study, titled Improving Student Learning and Engagement Through Gamified Instruction: Evaluation of iPersonalize, will look for causal evidence of the impact of Fullerton School District's (FSD) gamified instructional system.

Fullerton has partnered with Marzano Research, which obtained an IES Low-Cost, Short-Duration Evaluation grant, to conduct an evaluation of iPersonalize, a gamified instructional approach designed by FSD to accelerate student engagement and promote achievement. The one-year study will employ a randomized controlled trial intended to meet What Works Clearinghouse Standards and designed to support causal inferences about the effectiveness of iPersonalize for impacting student achievement.

"We are excited about the opportunity to partner with Fullerton School District to examine the impact of iPersonalize on student achievement and engagement in school," said Mary Klute, a senior researcher at Marzano Research and the lead researcher on the evaluation.

FSD created iPersonalize in 2014 by augmenting current teaching and assessment strategies for English language arts (ELA) and California Content Standards with game elements. In developing iPersonalize, FSD reimagined the organization, learning activities, instruction and assessments of a typical unit of study by employing the principles of alternate-reality games.

FSD has developed instructional units composed around a story or scenario that binds all instruction and assessment activities together. The model is being delivered to approximately 6,000 students in fifth through eighth grade in 110 classrooms in 19 district schools.

Robert Marzano, co-founder of Marzano Research, previously provided positive feedback on iPersonalize's theory of change after Marzano Research worked with the district on integrating Marzano Research education strategies into the district's instructional framework. Marzano noted the program's research-based approach to its instructional design was consistent with his researched effective practices.

"iPersonalize uses a gamification layer in the curriculum to promote a standards-based approach based upon Common Core Standards in mathematics, reading and writing," wrote Marzano in a statement in 2016. "By integrating whole group, small group, independent and online learning together with a gamification layer in the curriculum, students' engagement is promoted."

FSD hypothesizes that this gamified instructional approach improves student engagement, resulting in improved student academic outcomes. FSD would like to expand the program, but FSD is looking for strong evidence of its success before moving forward.

The research department at Marzano Research, an administratively separate unit from the authors and developers of the educational materials, will evaluate the program by focusing on roughly 1,250 sixth-grade students in 14 schools.

In doing so, Marzano Research will look to answer three questions:

1. What is the impact of iPersonalize on sixth-grade student achievement in ELA?

2. What is the impact of iPersonalize on sixth-grade student engagement in school?

3. Does student engagement mediate the impact of iPersonalize on student achievement in ELA?

"We have already seen our Fullerton School District students empowered through personalized learning as they pursue their interests, build knowledge at deeper levels and apply that learning to impact their world," said Robert Pletka, superintendent of Fullerton School District. "We look forward to working with Marzano Research as we gain valuable knowledge and 'level up' in this endeavor. We are continually striving to iterate our units of study and improve teaching and learning for our kids."

iPersonalize uses an instruction framework that is rooted in the design questions found in Marzano's "The Art and Science of Teaching." To isolate the effect of iPersonalize, all teachers, including those in the control group, have received professional development and are expected to implement the same instructional framework found in iPersonalize.

"It is really an honor for Marzano Research to be awarded an IES Research Grant and help support Fullerton School District's commitment to evidence-based learning," said Jennifer Norford, chief program officer at Marzano Research. "The award is a testament to the talent and hard work of our research team and the way we collaborate with our partners to understand their needs and discover solutions together."

Please read an abstract of the IES Grant found here:

Contact Information

  • For more information, please contact:
    Joseph Boven
    Communications Manager
    Marzano Research
    Email contact


    Mary Klute
    Senior Researcher
    Marzano Research
    Email contact

    303-766-9199 ext. 327