Background of the Problem
Teachers have been given the task to positively mould the lives of their students. Nevertheless, at the same time, we are faced with an increasing challenge, to educate students in such a way that will stimulate their interest and willingness to learn. Teaching Language Arts is no exception to this challenge. According to Moore (2009), Language Arts has been a major problem for students globally, especially areas where learning English is their second language; as most of these students have difficulty remembering the vast number of rules that apply to the subject area.
Over the past years as a marker for the Grade Three Diagnostic Test, I have noticed that students were having difficulty in Language Arts, especially in the areas of reading comprehension, vocabulary and structure/mechanics. However, the Jamaica Country Assessment Preliminary Draft (2012) postulated that the performance of students at key examinations has been improving. It further states that in June 2011, over 71% of the students who sat the Grade Four Literacy examination attained mastery, which is an increase from the 67% attained in 2010. Nevertheless the Jamaica Country Assessment Preliminary Draft (2012) stated that the mean percentage score for students’ performance in their GSAT Language arts for the academic year 2010 was 58.0 and 57.0 respectively in 2009.
An observation of the 2012 and 2013 Grade Three Diagnostic Test result at my school revealed that in 2012, 38% of the students were unable to use the correct forms of words and punctuation marks in sentences; as a result they did not master the structure and mechanics category of the test, while in 2013, 31% were performing at the non-mastery level as exemplified in Table 1.
Students’ Performance in Structure and Mechanics in 2012 and 2013
Year Mastery Level Near Mastery Level Non-mastery Level
2012 Boys Girls % Boys Girls % Boys Girls %
9 24 28 20 19 34 30 14 38
2013 13 26 33 19 23 36 27 10 31
According to Marzano (2010), games are a regular part of our students’ life and are played throughout the day, whether on their phones, computers or internet. Marzano further emphasized that the classroom is one of the rare places where games are not frequently played. Based on studies conducted on the effect of using games in the classroom, Marzano highlighted that results revealed mixed outcomes as there were some classes that have shown more than 20 percentile point gain; while some revealed smaller effects, while others revealed no effects or even negative ones. However, Moore (2009) emphasized that the use of games in the classroom offers numerous benefits which includes critical thinking and a high level of interest and enthusiasm.
Against this background, an action research was conducted at a school in a rural community in Central Clarendon, Jamaica. Within this community there are several government-owned schools as well as business...