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Case Study

Giant Steps multiplies student success

Learn how a New Jersey teacher used a gamified learning platform to multiply her math students’ success.

  • Ocean County, NJ
  • 2
  • 1,621
Ocean County, NJ

The problem

Learning - and teaching - in the digital age can be difficult. Studies show engaging students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is still a significant challenge in the K-12 classroom.

The solution

Leveraging the advanced technology of Giant Steps to make education so fun, students almost forget they’re learning.

What is Giant Steps? It’s a gamified practice tool built on learning science and education research that uses elements of gaming, including achievements and points, to engage students, encourage collaboration, and drive student learning.

The story

Gerilyn Williams is a 7th-grade math teacher in the Pinelands Regional School District, a rural district in Ocean County, New Jersey. Like many educators, Gerilyn is always looking for ways to help keep her students engaged and drive student learning. But that can be hard, especially when trying to capture the attention of teenagers who aren’t exactly in love with numbers.

That’s when she discovered Giant Steps.

The date was October of 2022. Gerilyn gained early access to Giant Steps as a prototype tester. While using this innovative, gamified platform, Gerilyn turned practice into play for her students; soon after, she discovered how engaged they were with their lessons.

What does it mean to turn practice into play?

To put it simply, students don’t have to feel the pressure of getting questions right under quiz or test settings.

Rather, they can practice specific types of problems (like two-step pre-algebra equations, for example) in a fun, low-stakes environment. By receiving points and unlocking achievements for successful completion of problems, students simultaneously get the practice needed for success, as well as gain much-needed confidence to conquer their lessons. 

The Drawing item type is one of the unique item types in Giant Steps.

Not only does this approach increase engagement in the learning experience and subsequent test performance over non-gamified conditions, it also perfectly aligns with Gerilyn and her district’s mission to “create a positive culture and space to encourage life-long, personalized learning opportunities.”

Test Time

After immediately seeing her students enjoying using Giant Steps, Gerilyn really put the platform to the test, conducting 124 Live Practice sessions across the span of 29 weeks.

Why Live Practice?

Because Live Practice enables students to work in teams to solve problems and practice skills related to the subject and objective at hand. Gerilyn sees the power of collaborative learning in her classroom. And science backs up that notion — studies indicate collaborative learning has been shown to improve motivational outcomes such as positive attitudes toward school, persistence, a sense of efficacy, and self-esteem.

“One thing I really, really liked is [Giant Steps] encouraged math talk…They really had this desire to explain how they were getting their answers, or why they chose this answer, or their reasoning behind their answer choices.”

Gerilyn Williams
7th-Grade Math Teacher

A Rewarding Experience

“One thing I really, really liked is [Giant Steps] encouraged math talk…They really had this desire to explain how they were getting their answers, or why they chose this answer, or their reasoning behind their answer choices.”

A Personalized Teaching Approach Using Real-Time Feedback

After Gerilyn’s students answered a question in Giant Steps, their aggregated responses and scores would appear on her screen; after seeing that data, Gerilyn would spring into action, pausing the session to personalize the learning experience based on how her students were responding to questions. “I was always stopping for teachable moments…and letting the students guide the discussion,” Gerilyn stated.


Taking their time

In addition to Live Practice sessions, 98% of Gerilyn’s students practiced on their own, at their own pace. This consisted of specific assignments, previously practiced items, and reattempts to answer previously incorrect questions.

Helpful to the core

Accessing pre-made, standards-aligned items and practice sets, Gerilyn’s students also completed content that covered 22 Common Core standards.

The Final Grade

“Giant Steps is absolutely making an impact and affecting the success I’m seeing in my classroom.”

Gerilyn Williams

That was Gerilyn’s response when asked how Giant Steps is impacting her students. 
Simply put, her students were able to reinforce their learning and master material by taking their time and — dare we say? — having fun, too.

A passionate teacher + learning science = success. That’s the kind of math anyone can get behind.


  1. Patall, E., Vite, A., Lee, D., Zambrano, J., Hamilton Bhat, B., & Arkatov, A., GoGuardian (2023). 2022-2023 State of Engagement Report. GoGuardian.
  2. Krause, M., Mogalle, M., Pohl, H., & Williams, J. J. (2015, March). A playful game changer: Fostering student retention in online education with social gamification. In Proceedings of the Second (2015) ACM Conference on Learning @ Scale (pp. 95-102).
  3. Mayer, R.E., & Alexander, P.A. (Eds.). (2016). Handbook of Research on Learning and Instruction (2nd ed.). Routledge.
Gerilyn's students also completed content that covered 22 common core standards
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