Escape the Classroom: The Pedagogical Benefits and Caveats of Escape Room Design and Implementation in the Secondary English Classroom

Kirsten Oleksewich

Supervisor: Dr. Peter Arthur

City: Kelowna

Occupation: Educator

Year: 2021


  • Curriculum
  • Other


Escape rooms are composed of teams of people cooperatively searching for clues and solving puzzles to accomplish a task within a specified amount of time, usually within a themed narrative or mission. While this business trend has been marketed to help staff build cohesion and skills in collaboration, creative and critical thinking, it also has many merits in the field of education. Recreational escape rooms have provided a source of inspiration for the development of educational escape rooms. However, there is a considerable research and literature gap as the activity approach is in its infancy, particularly at the secondary level. For any educator interested in escape room implementation, they will naturally question if there are pedagogical benefits to escape room use in the secondary classroom. Thankfully, escape room design and implementation are not a novel trend of education; there are many potential benefits to transform students from passive observers to active participants. The pedagogical benefits of escape rooms are closely linked to constructivist theories of learning. Indeed, a well-designed escape room activity allows students to interact with content knowledge in a simulated application of real-world scenarios, the framework of which is reflective of good teaching practice and design.

This paper synthesizes current research and curricular theory with reference to my own experience of designing and implementing escape rooms for educational purposes in secondary English classrooms to enhance learning and build classroom community. This evaluation will offer insight for educators interested in the potential benefits and caveats of escape rooms as an educational tool.

This paper explores the following research questions:

  1. What are the common characteristics in educational escape rooms to ensure successful implementation?
  2. To what extent can escape rooms enhance students’ cognitive development in terms of content mastery through play and design?
  3. To what extent can escape rooms enhance students’ development of soft skills, such as collaboration, communication, creative and critical thinking through play and design?
  4. What systems are at play when an educator implements an escape room activity in her classroom?

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Student Biography

Kirsten is grateful to learn and live within the ancestral, traditional, and unceded territory of the Syilx (Okanagan) Peoples. Earning her BA at UBC Okanagan then her BEd at UVIC, education and learning have always been a passionate topic of discussion and exploration.