CEC Theses and Dissertations

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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computing Technology in Education (DCTE)


Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences


Gertrude Abramson

Committee Member

Timothy J Ellis

Committee Member

Ling Wang


The number of underprepared students entering post-secondary education continues to be a national problem community colleges struggle with by providing remedial instruction while having to satisfy the demands for effective teaching accountability. Reading is one identified area needing remediation; and, a goal for programs to address this shortcoming is to increase vocabulary to improve reading comprehension. The problem was that students placed into developmental courses are often discouraged learners with low motivation and eschew the practice requisite for vocabulary learning.

Many educators are interested in re-creating the compelling environment found in games to parlay the power of digital games to required curriculum learning in order to engage their students. However, despite the preponderance of recent literature advocating digital games for classroom learning, especially the use of complex endogenous games, there is limited empirical evidence for using digital games to achieve defined learning outcomes. Further, no recent studies have examined digital games use with developmental populations. The study designed, developed, implemented, and evaluated the blending of computer-based games with traditional classroom instruction to provide the repetition and active processing required for students to acquire new vocabulary.

The goal was to develop a blended learning design to integrate instructional design and blending design practices to support and improve learning for vocabulary acquisition of developmental readers. A mixed-method (quantitative and qualitative) approach was employed and instructional events for vocabulary lessons were designed and developed using the framework of established models. Pretests and posttest measured achievement in vocabulary gains using three methods of practice: paper-based worksheet, text-based digital game, and video-style digital game. Survey instruments were used to determine students' enjoyment of and motivation using different treatments.

Results confirmed that students found digital games a motivating instructional method; however, no advantage in improving achievement was found using text-based or video-style games over the traditional paper-based worksheets method. A description of the analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation of digital games blended with traditional classroom instruction is provided to assist those interested in pursuing digital game-based learning with post-secondary developmental populations. Recommendations are also provided for future research and educational game development.

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