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CASE STUDY: CLASS DOJO

Case Study
Class Dojo - To Use or Not to Use
Maria Pollock
EDUC 515
Azusa Pacific University

CASE STUDY: CLASS DOJO

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Abstract

This case study addresses the use of ClassDojo as a classroom management tool. My research
includes teacher and student reviews of ClassDojo. I looked at whether or not there is a
consensus among teachers to use the app, and whether it is effective to publically display the
points, rather than keeping them private. There is little data available regarding statistics about
the use of ClassDojo, other than that provided by the applications home site. The various
reviews were mixed, and not consistent based on grade level, but most of the reviews addressed
the use of public displays versus private records.

CASE STUDY: CLASS DOJO

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ClassDojo: To Use or Not to Use

According to the ClassDojo website (https://www.classdojo.com/about/), ClassDojo is


the easiest way for teachers to encourage students, and share their best moments with parents.
The site purports to have redesigned classrooms and eliminated the need for classroom
management. The intent behind the ClassDojo application (app) is to engage and inspire
students and open the lines of communication with parents. The creators of ClassDojo, a former
teacher and a computer game developer, obviously intended the app to be a positive means of
motivating students, and based on my research, it appears that many teachers have experienced a
benefit.
ClassDojos website offers multiple testimonials from students, parents, and teachers. The
teachers range from first grade to high school, so the app looks to be successful at all grade
levels. The app offers many wonderful features, such as instant messaging, photo sharing,
announcements, read receipts, and 24/7 technical support. It is interactive with projectors, works
on computers and mobile phones, and it is available worldwide.
The statistics offered on the ClassDojo website are minimal. They include 3 billion
moments celebrated by teachers, 35 million teachers, parents, and students love ClassDojo,
and 1 in 2 schools in the US have teachers using ClassDojo every day. The first statistic means
that there were three billion instances that a teacher gave a point to a student for doing something
good or correct. This final count does not include the number of times that a teacher has taken a
point away for an infraction. Regarding the second statistic, the fact that there are so many
people that love the app is fairly impossible to prove or disprove, so I am unsure how they can
make that bold of a statement other than the difficulty of proving it wrong. The last statistic is
also very subjective. There could be one teacher using the app in a school of 40 teachers, and that

CASE STUDY: CLASS DOJO

teacher enables the school to be included in this statistic. It does not note how many teachers do
not use the app. These statistics are excellent sales pitches, but potentially have no concrete
evidence to back up the claims.

3BILLIONmoments
celebratedinclassbyteachers

35BILLIONteachers,parents,
andstudentsloveClassDojo

1in2SCHOOLS
intheUShaveteachers
usingClassDojoeveryday

In 2012, Education Week published a blog by Nirvi Shah that touted the new app
(http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/teacherbeat/2012/08/classroom_management_theres_an.html),
stating A survey of teachers who use ClassDojo found a 45 percent to 90 percent increase in
incidents of positive student behavior, and a 50 percent to 85 percent decrease in episodes of
misbehavior. As a reporter for Education Week, she had access to teachers, and one of those she
spoke to appreciated the ability of parents to review behavior with their children good and bad.
One of the creators, Sam Chaudhary, said the intent of the app is to redirect student behavior, not
simply track it.
On the website, Getting Smart (http://gettingsmart.com/2014/08/parents-reviewclassdojo/), I found an August 2014 parent review. She is a parent who has not used the app yet,
therefore, the review is her opinion based on what she has found through her own research.
Alesha Bishop notes the advantages, such as a quick, easy way for teachers to note behaviors as
they happen, and instant feedback for the students. She also lists some disadvantages, including
privacy policies for the app, and public display of points in the classroom. Her final thought is

CASE STUDY: CLASS DOJO

that she believes ClassDojo can be an effective tool for classroom management, if it is used
responsibly and carefully.
The next review I discovered was on Beta Classroom
(https://betaclassroom.wordpress.com/class-dojo-review/) The author was a second year teacher
who had luck with a homework chart, and saw ClassDojo as a technology-based behavior chart.
She cites positives in the form of ease of use, immediate visual reinforcement, and student and
parent access to data. She met one of the creators, and made suggestions for improvements,
including making data printouts possible and providing specific time stamps for
awarded/deducted points. The author stated that the creators welcome teacher input in order to
improve the product, and this is also a point made on the ClassDojo website.

Sample of a class browser

Another review that I found online was from Teaching Ace


(http://www.teachingace.com/thinking-about-classroom-dojo-why-not-just-tase-your-kidsinstead/), and the title of the article made his statement straightaway: Thinking About Classroom
Dojo Why Not Just Tase Your Kids Instead? This blog from August 2013 was not flippant or
closed-minded. He has never used ClassDojo, and has no intention of ever using it, but he offers

CASE STUDY: CLASS DOJO

reasonable explanations for his decision. He likens each point deduction to a ZAP! from a
Taser, and says that the zaps will redirect some of the students, but will distract others because
they will be thinking more about how to avoid being penalized instead of thinking about the
classwork they should be doing. He states that this routine can create animosity based on the fact
that children generally dislike people who punish them.
He also compares the ratings to judgments, and sees the class display of avatar points as
public shaming. The public display will also be a distraction, according to Teaching Ace,
because students will want to track how they are doing on points when they should be focusing
on their work. He states that the points system causes behavior to become a bigger concern for
generally well-behaved kids than it should be because everyone will know if they lose points.
For the students who are regularly reprimanded, there is now a constant reminder of failure in the
form of an avatar display.
Ultimately, Teaching Ace does not agree with the reward and punishment system in any
form verbal, visual, physical, or technological. He offers recommendations and alternatives to
reward and punishment, saying, the most important thing a teacher can do is build relationships
with their students, and build a classroom community where respect and contributions are valued
and expected. He acknowledges that creating motivation in our students takes longer without
reward and punishment, but believes that it can be done.
Ray Schleck posted a review in January of 2013 on the Match Education blog page
Puzzl_ED (http://www.matcheducation.org/puzzled/2013/01/14/rays-tech-product-review-classdojo) that praised most of the components of ClassDojo. He is a former seventh grade history
teacher who is now a substitute teacher, and he tried class dojo during a three-day position in a
seventh grade science class. Ray liked how easily he could record the points, plus and minus, and

CASE STUDY: CLASS DOJO

the accountability it offered, as well as being able to create reports for parents. He would have
preferred to be able to add value to some of the awards, for example, one point for reading and
three points for a great answer. The students he surveyed liked being able to check how they
were doing with points, and that the points were labeled so they knew why they received or lost
them. They had mixed feelings about the monster avatars, which is consistent with their ages.
Some students liked them, and some thought they were distracting.

ClassDojo Monster Avatars


On his Historyotters Blog in October 2013, Mr. Otway gave a rave review of the
ClassDojo app (https://historyotters.wordpress.com). Citing another blogger, David Didau, he
compared the response times and reactions for ClassDojo to those of the video game, Call of
Duty. This comparison is based on the immediate feedback that allows the user to alter behavior
in order to achieve the desired results. Unlike Call of Duty, Mr. Otway believes the ClassDojo
app was designed especially for primary students, but he saw a benefit for his sixth grade
students, and implemented it with success. He praised the sound feature because it reminds the
students that he is watching without him speaking. He saw the advantage of designating reasons
for the points that were given and taken away, and the ability to compile large amounts of data in
a short period of time. Mr. Otway praised the constant feedback, weekly compilation of
behavioral data, and positive reinforcement afforded by this app.

CASE STUDY: CLASS DOJO

Joe Bower published a blog in November 2014 (http://www.joebower.org/2014/11/6reasons-to-reject-classdojo.html) in which he quoted a third grader who said, I like it
(ClassDojo) because you get rewarded for your good behavior - like a dog does when it gets a
treat. According to Bower, chief among the reasons to avoid ClassDojo is the fact that the app is
coercive and manipulative and creates a power struggle between teachers and adults. Bower
feels that the app does not address the reasons for the misbehaviors that cost students points, and
uses operant conditioning to build compliant students.
In her November 17, 2014 New York Times article, ClassDojo: A Tale of Two
Classrooms (http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/11/17/classdojo-a-tale-of-two-classsrooms/?
_r=0), Natasha Singer writes a comparison of two third grade teachers that use ClassDojo in
different manners. Greg Fletcher uses an interactive whiteboard to display his students points,
and Sharon Sofranko uses the app in private mode on her phone. Mr. Fletcher is comfortable
with the public display, and feels it is effective for, and accepted by his students. Ms. Sofranko
experienced distraction and anxiety with her students, and discontinued publically showing the
points. She has chosen instead to speak individually to students who need redirection based on
points deducted during class time. This article is where Joe Bower found the quote from a third
grader paralleling student rewards to dog treats.
I know teachers who use the app, and they like it as a classroom management tool, but
that is what it is: a tool. It is not the only component to managing a classroom. I can see the
advantages of having readily available data for behavioral patterns when there is a student who
may need intervention. I also appreciate the value of parental access, as well as the ease of use. I
was disturbed by the quote about student rewards and dog treats. A child should never feel as if
he is being treated like a pet. Children are meant to be, and should expect to be valued,

CASE STUDY: CLASS DOJO

supported, and encouraged. In the debate between public displays versus private tallies, I am on
the side of privacy. I believe it would be distracting, if I were a student, to have that visual record
in my face when I am trying to work. As an introvert and conscientious student, I would also be
immeasurably embarrassed if I lost points. It would completely refocus my attention away from
my schoolwork. If I were a student with ADHD or any behavioral issues, I would also be more
focused on the points than my work.
Overall, I feel that the ClassDojo app is a good management tool, if used with regard for
individual students abilities and expectations. Judgment of behavior can be subjective and
generalizing. Students have differing strengths ad weaknesses, and these must be taken into
account, no matter what management tool a teacher employs. Joe Bower noted:
Poor Pedagogy + Technology = Accelerated Malpractice
(http://www.joebower.org/2014/11/6-reasons-to-reject-classdojo.html). No matter how one tries
to manage behavior, if the method is inadequate or badly used, technology will speed the adverse
effects. Technology allows us to work faster, but faster is not always better. Sometimes, not at all
is better. Teacher responsibility is key when using ClassDojo to manage student behavior, even
more so than student responsibility.
Before implementing ClassDojo, or any other classroom tool, I would recommend
reading blogs and website posts to determine if one can implement it effectively. The question of
whether a teacher can use ClassDojo to encourage students to become self-motivated must be
answered before even considering using it. The fundamental behavior goal must be the students
self-motivation to be successful. I feel that the majority of teachers can adapt this technology to
fit their class needs because it is teacher-directed. There is flexibility in assignment of
designations for points, and number of points given for those designations. There is ease of use,

CASE STUDY: CLASS DOJO

10

and parental accessibility to data, as well as the potential for students to learn how to refocus
themselves.
Ultimately, a teacher will not know for sure that ClassDojo will be effective until he uses
it. The greatest question may be whether or not ClassDojo can hurt a childs self-esteem. Are
there any recorded instances where a child was seriously affected in a negative way by this
method of classroom management? If, so what can be done to avoid that eventuality? Is it
possible to implement the app for only certain students in a classroom, instead of the entire
class? This app is still fairly new, and more time may need to pass before these questions can be
answered.
As I begin my teaching career, I anticipate trying out this classroom management tool.
Having researched it, I am aware of the possible dangers of using it, and I will likely keep my
ClassDojo a private method of behavior management. I feel that it is more effective to motivate
students individually, not as a group. Group punishments and rewards are too reliant on peer
pressure. I am hopeful that I will have a number of students who are motivated to behave well,
and do not want them to become discouraged if the rest of the class does not feel the same. I will
be mindful of the cognitive dissonance created by the presence of judgment within the safe
learning environment I intend to create in my classroom. It can be difficult to feel safe when one
feels judged. It is a very fine line to navigate.

CASE STUDY: CLASS DOJO

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References

https://www.classdojo.com/about/
6 Reasons to Reject ClassDojo. Retrieved 22 June 2015, from
http://www.joebower.org/2014/11/6-reasons-to-reject-classdojo.html.
A Parents Review of ClassDojo. Retrieved on 22 June 2015, from
http://gettingsmart.com/2014/08/parents-review-classdojo/.
ClassDojo: A Tale of Two Classrooms. Retrieved on 22 June 2015 from
http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/11/17/classdojo-a-tale-of-two-classsrooms/?_r=0.
ClassDojo Review. Retrieved on 23 June 2015, from https://betaclassroom.wordpress.com/classdojo-review/.
Classroom Management Website Soars in Popularity. Retrieved on 5 July 2015 from
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/teacherbeat/2012/08/classroom_management_theres_an.
html.
Dojo Blog. Retrieved on 22 June 2015, from https://historyotters.wordpress.com/class-dojo/.
Google images
Rays Tech Product Review: ClassDojo. Retrieved on 23 June 2015 from
http://www.matcheducation.org/puzzled/2013/01/14/rays-tech-product-review-class-dojo.
Thinking About Classroom Dojo Why Not Just Tase Your Kids Instead? Retrieved on 22 June
2015 from http://www.teachingace.com/thinking-about-classroom-dojo-why-not-justtase-your-kids-instead/.