Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Learning Sciences

Committee Member

Dr. Meihua Qian, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Matthew Boyer

Committee Member

Dr. Danielle Herro

Committee Member

Dr. Sam Sparace

Committee Member

Dr. Mindy Spearman


This study implemented a convergent parallel mixed methods approach to investigate game-based learning within an educational game compared to a modified entertainment game. Participants (N=31) were recruited from public middle and high schools as well as home school groups. Comparative data of participants’ perceptions, preferences and learning outcomes were investigated to inform better educational game design. This study also considers player personality to determine how dispositional curiosity influences an individual’s approach, acceptance, and interaction with novel learning environments, specifically games. Findings show a statistically significant gain in genetics academic knowledge after the game-based learning intervention. The difference in knowledge gained for the two games was not statistically significant. All dimensions of engagement, motivation and curiosity were statistically significantly higher for the modified entertainment game. Increases in scientific curiosity was statistically significantly higher for the modified entertainment game while scientific curiosity statistically significantly decreased after playing the educational game. Qualitative analysis revealed five themes and provided deeper understanding of game design features that enhance learning, curiosity and engagement from the player’s perception. Integration of quantitative and qualitative results suggest overall convergence and enhanced understanding of theoretical and practical implications of this research and identifies key relationships between game design, player perceptions and learning outcomes to inform better educational game design and implementation.



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