EDET 636 Week 13

How does using Class Dojo impact student engagement?

Action Research Project


This is my first year using Class Dojo as a way to manage my classroom. I started off the study with six students: four in kindergarten (2 boys and 2 girls), and two boys in first grade. I ended the study with eight students (two new students came), one girl in kindergarten and one boy in the first grade. Class Dojo is a free on-line behavior tracking system for teachers in any grade level. This tool works on any smartphone, iPad, or computer. It allows us to give immediate and long-term feedback to our students for both positive and negative behavior. The students are given a username and password, which both students and parents can see to track their behaviors. We can choose which positive behaviors to reward students on, for example: turning in homework, on-task, participation, completing the task, etc. and we can choose to record and track the less desirable behaviors like talking out of turn, being disrespectful, off-task, not raising your hand, or running in the hall (usually things we want our students to work on).

Class Dojo gives students opportunities to reflect on their behaviors, choose to make the right choices and make improvements. It allows us to work closely with parents to establish clear goals and expectations for their child. We can message them any time of the day to let them know how their child is doing; we can upload classroom pictures or use it as a newsletter for upcoming school events.

During the study, I tracked students’ points daily and rewarded them based on how many points they’ve accumulated. Points were added to the previous day, so that students have a whole week to earn as many points as they can. The greater the points, the better the reward. We started off with a Reward Chart up to 50, and then we ended in 30 points.

Students used the Dojo Board that I set up in my classroom to see how many points they had at the end of each school day.

Research Question: How does using Class Dojo impact student engagement?

Literature Review

Marzano said that the key to student achievement is classroom management and students will not learn in a poorly managed classroom (Marzano & Marzano, 2003). B.F. Skinner (1987) theorized that student behavior can be understood through the motivations, reinforcers and punishments given by the teacher. Student motivations can be influenced by the teachers system of reinforcements and punishments to increase student engagement and learning.

Chance (1993), also believed that a reward system based on Skinner’s theories of reinforcement (external reward system) is an effective, learning classroom management strategy. He advised that the rewards given to the students be used with care because if students are rewarded for doing positive things, they’ll expect a reward each time, and that positive rewards only benefit short-term behavior, not long-term. For instance, students might not learn self-control and responsibility in the long run, they’ll only do things when they’re supposed to get rewarded.

On the other hand, other researchers believe having a behaviorist reward system may have its disadvantageous. Mader (2009) indicated that students may become demotivated by external rewards because they start to focus on short-term goals, fail to make long-term goals, and lose their internal motivation to learn. Kohn (1993), claimed that students lose their independence, determination, and eagerness to learn, when they’re familiar with a system of rewards. Freiberg & Lamb (2009) argued that the behaviorist approach has failed to expedite student self-direction and discipline.

Self-Brown and Matthews (2003) compared student goal-setting in three classrooms with three different classroom management systems. What the authors concluded was that students in the contingency-contract (a contract between student and teacher focusing on behavioral/academic goals) controlled classroom, had set more learning goals, while students in the token economy classroom (students rewarded immediately following positive behavior) set more performance goals. Students in the contingency contract model were also more likely to set goals and be more independent and express individuality.

In a person-centered classroom management system, both the teacher and students are responsible for establishing a climate in the classroom and developing student-teacher connections and relationships (Doyle, 2009; Freiberg & Lamb, 2009). Each student is responsible to participate in engagement, curriculum, relationships, development and discipline, while the teacher is responsible for providing opportunities in all five parts. As students focus more on participating, behavioral issues decrease (Hickey & Schafer, 2006) because participating students are less likely to be bored.

Why incorporate a web-based management system? Researchers continue to emphasize the importance and relevance of technology in the lives of current students (Bolick & Cooper, 2006; Kimmel & Deek, 1996). The different kinds of technologies used in the classroom as learning resources requires a shift from teacher-centered classrooms to constructivist instruction because of the nature and intended use of technologies. Bolick (2006) identified technology as a tool for student learning and teacher organization. Using technology as a tool for learning is an important lesson for students, because as Bolick says, “The successful adults of the future will need knowledge of and the ability to use a wide variety of technology.”

Research Questions

  1. What motivates students to earn points throughout the school day/week?
  2. What demotivates students to earn points?


The data collection method that I used during my research was observation, student surveys and parent surveys. All my observations took place in my classroom with my K-1 students. I observed 5 kindergarten students (2 boys and 3 girls), and three 1st grade students (3 boys).

The reason why I chose to complete observations is because it is the most efficient way to record behavior and engagement as it’s happening. I created a table (Fig. 1) to help with recording observations.

Throughout the study, I was observing behaviors like participating, staying on-task, following directions, walking quietly in the hall, or raising their hand. I was also observing negative behaviors like talking out of turn, running in the hall, not following directions, etc. In addition to writing my observation notes, I used Class Dojo on my iPad to track student points, because my study was focusing on how using it engages or disengages students.

Along with observations, I also had my students complete a survey. I created a survey (Fig. 2) consisting of smiley, neutral and sad faces indicating how they felt about using Class Dojo. I had them complete the survey towards the end of the study.

In addition to surveying my students, I surveyed the parents (Fig. 3). I included the parents because I use Class Dojo to communicate with them. If a student was doing great, or I had a concern, I messaged the parent. I felt like if a student had a bad day, me getting a hold of the parent would impact their behavior. I gave the survey to parents during the middle of the survey.

My research question was how does using Class Dojo impact student engagement? Whenever I saw students exhibiting positive behaviors, they earned points. When I saw students demonstrating negative behaviors, I took away a point. My positive and negative notifications sound was turned on, on my iPad. Meaning, whenever I added a point a positive ding was made, or whenever I took away a point, a negative buzz was made. This is how students knew I was tracking.

I tracked students’ points individually, and the data was collected and stored in Class Dojo. I was able to view class and individual reports, as well as customize data into graphs and print for my records.

Because I have a split K-1 Class, with only 8 students, I created one group and entered all their names. This way I was able to open up my app and modify points when needed rather than switch classes.


At the conclusion of my study, this is what I learned:

Students do not respond well to the negative buzz sound. I had two students in particular who became discouraged when they lost a point and when the negative buzz went off. This happened several times with one of the students who did not follow directions. For instance during cleanup time, he would continue working until he was completely finished. I took away his point for “not following directions,” and he lost all of his motivation to work. He sat at his desk and did not want to do anything. This happened with another student who did not want to go back and correct his work. I circled the answers that were wrong and asked that he read over the passage and see if his answer is still correct. He refused to take his worksheet back and make the corrections, so I took away a point. After he heard the negative buzz noise, he put his head down and started sighing loudly. This happened more than once with this student. Whenever a student loses a point, I remind them that they can earn it back by changing their behavior and making the right choice.

As the study progressed, I saw that this was a recurring behavior with the student was sighs loudly. It happened at least once a week or every other week. When the student did change his negative behavior to a positive one, he was rewarded a point for following directions. When he heard that positive notification sound, he was more encouraged to complete the task. It took him awhile to comprehend that, but he got it soon enough. Now, whenever I see this student about to act up, I remind him that if he completes the task, or makes the right choice, you can earn a point. I haven’t had a melt down with either of these students in a while.

I gave my classroom the survey towards the end of the study. The survey (Fig. 2) consisted of four questions where the students circled a sad, neutral or a happy face telling me how they felt about Class Dojo. 7 students were present during the survey. The results concluded that 100% of the class liked hearing the positive ding noise, and 57% said that sometimes they dislike hearing the negative noise. 100% of the class said that using Class Dojo makes them want to work harder in school.

I created my own parent survey (Fig. 3), 4/6 parents participated. The results showed that they liked using instant messaging as a way of staying in contact with the teacher and receiving classroom updates. These questions were multiple-choice. None of the parents answered the open-ended questions, which were ones that focused on student behavior and if their child enjoys Class Dojo at home.

Based on my findings, it was valid to change my notification settings to only positive dings. Having that negative buzz wasn’t keeping my students engaged. Reminding my students they can earn points by demonstrating positive behavior, change their behavior form negative to positive, and them hearing that positive sound, kept my students motivated.

Another thing that motivated my students to stay engaged was the classroom Dojo Board. I created my own board for the students to see how many points they’ve accumulated so far in the week. Whenever they reached a certain number (increments of 5) they were rewarded. I started the study off with 50 points; but we all noticed that they were only earning up to 20 points a week (give or take). The goals were too far-reaching, so I changed my point system to 30. Now I see my students more willing to earn all the points in a week. Everyday students ask me how many points they have, they compete with other students to earn more points, and they check the board daily to see if they have enough to get a reward. I’m happy with my results. I know what demotivates students and what motivates students to stay engaged with Class Dojo. This is a great classroom management tool, and I recommend it to any schoolteacher.


Bolick, C.M., & Cooper, J.M. (2006). Classroom management and technology. In C.M. Evertson & C.S. Weinstein (Eds.),  Handbook of classroom management: Research, practice, and contemporary issues  (pp. 541-558). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Breaux, A.L. (2003).  101 Answers for new teachers and their mentors  . Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education, Inc.

BYRNE R. Classroom Management Made Fun.  School Library Journal  [serial online]. November 2012;58(11):15. Available from: MasterFILE Premier, Ipswich, MA. Accessed September 24, 2015.

Chance, P. (1993). Sticking up for rewards.   The Phi Delta Kappan, 74  (10), 787-790.

ClassDojo. ClassDojo Opens Classrooms to Parents, Adding Instant and Meaningful Communications Between Teachers, Parents, and Students.  Business Wire (English)  [serial online]. 1:Available from: Regional Business News, Ipswich, MA. Accessed September 24, 2015.

ClassDojo Helps Teachers Easily Manage Classroom Behavior.  Curriculum Review  [serial online]. October 2012;52(2):5. Available from: Professional Development Collection, Ipswich, MA. Accessed September 24, 2015.

Lacher, Angela and Zich, Mary, “High Student Achievement Through Classroom Management” (2014). Masters of Arts in Education Action Research Papers. Paper 61.

Doyle, W. (2009). Situated practice: A reflection on person-centered classroom management. Theory into Practice, 48  (2), 156-159.

Freiberg, H. J., & Lamb, S. M. (2009). Dimensions of person-centered classroom management.  Theory into Practice, 48  (2), 99-105.

Henerson, A.T.; & Mapp, K.L. (2002). A new wave of evidence: The impact of school, family, and community connections on student achievement.  Southwest Educational Development Laboratory Annual Synthesis 2002.  Retrieved from http://www.sedl.org/connections/resources/evidence.pdf

Hickey, D. T., & Schafer, N. J. (2006). Design-based, participation-centered approaches to classroom management.  In C. M. Evertson & C. S. Weinstein (Eds.),  Handbook of classroom management: Research, practice, and contemporary issues  (pp. 281-308). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Kohn, A. (1993). Rewards verses learning: A response to Paul Chance.  The Phi Delta Kappan, 74  (10), 783-787.

MacLean-Blevins, A. (n.d.). Class DoJo: Supporting the art of student self-regulation. Retrieved September 25, 2015, from http://aprendercom.org/escola21/file/download/3513

Mader, C. E. (2009). “I will never teach the old way again”: Classroom management and external incentives.  Theory into Practice,48  (2), 147-155.

Marzano, R.J., & Marzano, J.S. (2003, Septemeber). The key to classroom management. Educational Leadership, 61(1), 6-13. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educationalleadership/sept03/vol61/num01/The-Key-to-Clasroom-Management.aspx

Marketwired. ClassDojo Mobilizes More Teachers to Build Students’ Character Anywhere With Version 2.0 of Its Popular iOS and Android Apps.  Marketwire (English)  [serial online]. August 15, 2013:Available from: Newspaper Source Plus, Ipswich, MA. Accessed September 24, 2015.

Self-Brown, S. R., & Matthews, S. II. (2003). Effects of classroom structure on student achievement goal orientation.  The Journal of Educational Research 97  (2), 106-111.

Skinner, B. F. (1987).  Upon further reflection. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.


Figure 1

Date/Time: DT TO TG KB GN KH













Figure 2

I don’t like it. Sometimes I like it, sometimes I don’t like it. I like it!
How I feel when I hear the positive ding noise? Earning a point. 😦  :\  🙂
How I feel when I hear the negative ding noise? Losing a point.
Does Class Dojo help me want to work harder in school?
Does it make me want to work less?


Figure 3

Class Dojo Parent Survey


  1. How often do you use the Internet at home? Please circle.





2. How do you prefer interacting with a teacher about your child’s behavior and improvement?



Instant Messaging


  1. On a scale of 1-4, 0=never, 4= 100%

How likely are you to use Class Dojo to communicate with the teacher about your child, and receive classroom updates. 

1       2       3       4

4 Does your child talk about Class Dojo at home? Please briefly explain what you have heard about it.





  1. If your child talks about Class Dojo at home, is their attitude more positive, or more negative. Please explain:




  1. Comments, concerns?


Thank you!

One thought on “EDET 636 Week 13

  1. I was really excited that you chose Class Dojo since I’ve been using it for two years. I love it! Here are a few notes:

    In your introduction, is any of the background information from Class Dojo? If it is, you should site it. It may not be, but I thought I would check.

    You wrote, “We started off with a Reward Chart up to 50, and then we ended in 30 points.” Can you explain this a little more, because I was unsure of what it means. If you are going to 50 then how did you end in 30?

    Your literature review is very well written. Nice Job!

    I noticed you had research questions in two different sections. Could you put them all in one place? I think it would make your goals clearer. I only had one research question. I like that you had three! Did you answer all three of them in your paper? I am not sure.

    In the methodology section, you might want to correct this sentence: I gave the survey to parents during the middle of the survey.

    …and this sentence: As the study progressed, I saw that this was a recurring behavior with the student was sighs loudly.

    …and spell out the word “seven” in this sentence: 7 students were present during the survey.

    I like that you explained changing the chart from 50 to 30, but it was at the very end. Could you summarize it in the introduction as well?

    I’m so happy that Class Dojo worked for you. I have been curious about just using positive instead of negative with my students. I may have to do a study myself and see what my students think.

    Nice work!


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