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Graduate Defense: Sean Ward

July 12 @ 9:00 am - 11:00 am MDT

Dissertation Information

Title: Game-Based Learning: Examining Factors that Influence K-12 Classroom Usage

Program: Doctor of Education in Education Technology

Advisor: Dr. Youngkyun Baek, Educational Technology

Committee Members: Dr. Ross Perkins, Educational Technology, and Dr. Jui-Long Hung, Educational Technology


Video games have become a popular and accepted part of digital culture and are becoming more accepted as an engaging instructional tool in schools. Integration of games can help develop students’ intrinsic motivation for learning and are a great way for teachers to incorporate student interests and make connections to the curriculum. Classroom usage of digital games is becoming more widespread, but prior research suggests that game-based learning is underutilized as a tool in the teacher toolbox. This study seeks to understand the factors that influence teachers’ decisions to use or not use digital games in their classroom and make suggestions for convincing reluctant teachers to increase usage of game-based learning in the future.

This study uses a survey-based concurrent embedded research design. Participants in the study were 133 current K-12 educators in the United States. Quantitative data was analyzed using SPSS software and path analysis was utilized to determine the factors that influence a teacher’s intention to use digital games and actual reported usage of digital games in the classroom. Open-ended responses were analyzed using a word frequency and theme-based approach.

Overall, the data shows that teachers are integrating digital games into their instruction, with 86% of teachers reporting usage of digital games at least once per week. Teacher perceptions, knowledge of games and teaching with games, and experiences with games were identified as factors influencing digital game usage in the classroom. Findings suggest that ongoing professional development opportunities for teachers can positively affect teacher perceptions and help resistant teachers overcome perceived barriers and increase classroom usage of GBL.