School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Amanda J. Rockinson-Szapkiw


Duolingo, Efficacy, Flow, Foreign Language, Gamification, Serious Game


Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Curriculum and Instruction | Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Methods | Educational Psychology


A quasi-experimental, pretest-posttest, non-equivalent control group design was used to examine the effect of gamification on third and fourth grade students’ Spanish language achievement and student academic self-efficacy. In this study, the primary means of incorporating gamification into the experimental group’s Spanish language instruction was through the use of Duolingo®, a computer and mobile app that uses gamification and adaptive learning technology to teach foreign languages. Students in the control group received their regularly scheduled English L1/Spanish L2 class learning activities. The study was 12 weeks in duration. Students were assessed with a 50 question, multiple-choice English to Spanish and Spanish to English pretest covering vocabulary and grammar to control for prior Spanish language achievement. Students were assessed with the Pattern of Adaptive Learning Scales’ (PALS) Academic Efficacy subscale to control for prior academic self-efficacy. The same two instruments were used as posttests with questions arranged in a different order. Analysis showed no significant difference in students’ Spanish achievement between students who used Duolingo® and students who were taught with traditional means. Similarly, analysis showed no significant difference in students’ academic self-efficacy who were taught with Duolingo® versus those who were taught with traditional face-to-face instruction. This demonstrates that Duolingo® is a useful tool for teaching Spanish to elementary students.