serious game, serious games, serious gaming, video game, video games, serious game-based online course, educational video game, educational video games, multimedia, online video game course, online video game, online course, online courses, online learning, online learning environment, online learning environments, virtual learning environment, virtual learning environments, online educational learning environments, online educational environments, American history, intrinsic motivation, motivation, self-determination theory


The use of online courses continues to increase despite the small amount of research that exists on the effectiveness of online educational environments. The little research that has been conducted has focused on evaluating factors taken into consideration during the adoption of online learning environments. One notable benefit often cited is the ability to incorporate multimedia such as video games. Although game researchers and developers are pushing for the use of video games for educational purposes, there is a lack of research on the effectiveness of serious video games. When paring the increasing use of online educational environments, the push to use serious video games, and the lack of research on the effectiveness of online learning environments and video games, there is a clear need for further investigation into the use of serious video games in an online format. Based on current literature, no other known study has conducted an analysis comparing a serious game-based and non-game based online course; making this a unique study. The purpose of this study was to compare student learning experiences and outcomes between a serious game-based and non-game based online American History course. The data sources were data provided from Florida Virtual School (FLVS) and student and teacher interviews. Random samples of 92 students were statistically analyzed. A group of 8 students and 4 teachers were interviewed. FLVS data provided were analyzed using an independent t-test and the Mann-Whitney test and the student and teacher interview were analyzed using thematic analysis. Results of an independent t-test revealed that there was a significant (p > .01) difference in the mean number of days necessary to complete the course (MGB = 145.80, SDGB = 50.64, MNGB = 112.63, SDNGB = 49.60). The Mann-Whitney results indicated a significant difference between course performance and the type of American history course (Z = -5.066, p > .01); students in the serious game-based online course had an A average whereas students in the non-game-based online course had a B average. The thematic analysis of the relationship between student performance and motivation in both courses indicated that students and teachers of the game-based online course provided more reasons for student motivation than the students and teachers in the non-game-based online course. The thematic analysis of what aspects do students perceive as helpful and/or hindering to their learning indicated that students and teachers of the game-based online course provided more desirable, more helpful, less undesirable, and less hindering aspects for their course than the students and teachers in the non-game-based online course. As a result of the unique nature of this study, the findings provide new information for the fields of research on online learning, serious video gaming, and instructional design as well as inform instructional-designers, teachers, education stakeholders, serious video game designers, and education researchers.


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Graduation Date



Gunter, Glenda


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Education

Degree Program









Release Date

July 2013

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)

Included in

Education Commons