Critique: Promoting Positive Behavior Using the Good Behavior Game

As part of my learning experience in my Games and Learning graduate course at CU Denver, I’ll critique literature tied to the theme of game-based learning. These critiques will summarize features like research design, learning theory, methods, findings, and implications for the study and application of games and learning.

Below is my final critique

on a meta-analysis that synthesizes single-case research (SCR) on the Good Behavior Game (GBG) across 21 studies and supported just under 1,600 students in kindergarten through high school, (Bowman-Perrott et al, 2016). View the full article here.

As someone who is not a professional in education, GBG is a new concept for me. Well, sort of. I’ve heard about positive reinforcement but unaware there was a whole strategy around this to help teachers promote positive behavior in the classroom. It’s interesting to me that this game (or strategy) has had such great results; even when modifications are made. Why?

If you’re like me and need a definition,

hop over here and learn all about the classroom management strategy. In a nutshell, this five step process helps teachers effectively “promote prosocial behavior and decrease problem behavior” (Bowman-Perrott et al, 2015, p. 1). I couldn’t help but compare this to Darvasi’s (2016) attempt to keep his students focused with The Ward Game. At first glance, GBG seems like it would be an easier, more cost effective approach to keeping students on track. Has anyone ever used GBG in the classroom? Thoughts?

Because GBG game works with teams, students are held accountable by their teammates. I can see this as a huge motivator for the students. Teams with the least amount of points at the end of the day win prizes determined by the teacher. There is really no need for digital gadgets or virtual spaces, though that could be an interesting modification. How could something like social media become integrated? Bowman-Perrott et al (2015) did not address this in their research.

The authors reviewed the literature to determine:

  • the overall effect of GBG across studies
  • the effects of potential moderators on students’ behavioral outcomes

Which, they found to be positive despite several limitations in their study (i.e. effects on individual students, specificity around gender and demographics, etc.). Although most of the studies have been in the U.S., the authors found evidence of GBG success in other countries as well as within Native American school systems. I think this is important to call out because it reminds us about the psychology of human behavior and how game-based strategies can teach / train certain behavior regardless of location.

If it were up to me

and I was a teacher ready to test this out, I might add in a social media dimension to it. Perhaps a Facebook Group that provided general instructions, updates, and displayed results. Students could ask questions and communicate with the teacher and peers and check back outside of school hours. I think that this would encourage students to “play” even when not in the classroom.

Bowman-Perrott et al (2015) also noted that although there has been research around GBG in middle and high school, the majority of testing has been at the elementary level. I think this could get trickier with older students.

Educators, what do you think? Have you ever tried this? What were your successes and / or failures?



Bowman-Perrott, L., Burke, M. D., Zaini, S., Zhang, N., & Vannest, K. (2015). Promoting Positive Behavior Using the Good Behavior Game: A Meta-Analysis of Single-Case Research. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 18(3), 180-190. doi:10.1177/1098300715592355

Good Behavior Game. (n.d.). Retrieved from, from



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