Aubry Mauro

Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Jacob Hall, Ph.D


This action research project emphasizes the recognized influence of play on children’s social, emotional, and cognitive growth. The researcher explored how play-based learning strategies contribute to students’ development, drawing insights from existing literature. The research used mixed methods to analyze the impact of play-based learning on social, emotional, and cognitive development in a sixth-grade classroom. The researcher collected data over six weeks. Initial findings showed the effect of play-based learning on students' development. The baseline data in this action research project showed that this group of students enjoys playing inside, outside, independently, or in a group. The researcher found that these students crave that time for creativity and fun in their daily schedules. Students had a difficult time regaining focus following free play and no play. However, the researcher observed that students engaged in free play were more inclined to invite others to play with them. The researcher observed that students were more willing to work with people outside their friend groups in the third week of this intervention. Research shows that when students are engaged in meaningful, play-based activities, they are more open to all kinds of learning. This action research project provides information on the many benefits of play-based learning on students’ cognitive, social, and emotional development.