Date of Award

5-15-2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Middle and Secondary Education

First Advisor

Chara H. Bohan

Second Advisor

Joseph R. Feinberg

Third Advisor

Jodi Kaufmann

Fourth Advisor

Laurie Brantley-Dias

Abstract

Simulation games may increase student engagement in the social studies classroom. Papert (1991) states that constructionism allows students to build, whether tangible or intangible objects, and that the building and conversation around the building allows student to learn best. In this study, the researcher observed and interviewed participants, as well as wrote in a journal about the experience, regarding playing a simulation game about the Electoral College. The researcher utilized en vivo coding to facilitate data interpretation. The participants were 18 year-old students at a suburban high school in a metropolitan area in the southeastern United States. These participants were selected by self-identifying themselves as ‘social studies haters.’ The researcher gathered data to determine if the simulation game has a relationship to engagement in the social studies classroom and examined with the simulation game, eLECTIONS, exercised elements of the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) theory to engage the participants. The researcher determined that self-identified social studies haters at this school more strongly engaged in the social studies content when they participated in the simulation game on the Electoral College. The research also determined UDL enhanced engagement in the simulation game.

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