Keywords

CHAT, Middle School Girls, Science Education, Educational Video Games

Abstract

As students transition into middle school science courses, their interest and engagement in the subject declines. This decline is most significant among girls, particularly for topics in physical science. While several factors have been identified that contribute to the decline, one area that is emerging as a new way to help improve girls' view of science is the use of educational video games to improve engagement and interest in science content, particularly as video games have been steadily rising in popularity with girls. This study used Cultural Historical Activity Theory to understand how middle school girls engage with an educational video game designed to teach physical science concepts and how game design influences engagement. Ten participants played three games. Games were chosen to reflect diverse designs and mechanics. Participants were observed and audio recorded during the play and debriefed after the play. Games designs like open exploration, an in-game story, and gradually increasing challenges connected to content all supported engagement. Game design that used low cognitive demand, repetitive tasks, and increasing difficulty connected to game mechanics discouraged engagement. The enjoyment of the game itself increased interest in physical science topics. By better understanding the perspective of female students, these findings guide educators in selecting educative games for middle school girls and support game designers to better engage girls in the games and interest them in science.

Completion Date

2024

Semester

Spring

Committee Chair

Boote, David

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

College

College of Community Innovation and Education

Department

Learning Sciences and Educational Research

Degree Program

Curriculum and Instruction

Format

application/pdf

Language

English

Rights

In copyright

Release Date

May 2024

Length of Campus-only Access

None

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)

Campus Location

Orlando (Main) Campus

Accessibility Status

Meets minimum standards for ETDs/HUTs

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