Date of Award

Spring 6-14-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Learning Technologies Division

First Advisor

Dr. Brendan Calandra

Second Advisor

Dr. Lauren Marqulieux

Third Advisor

Dr. Nick Sauers

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Robert Hendrick

Fifth Advisor

Dr. Mike Law


Due to growing number of online university courses (Allen & Seaman, 2016; Picciano, 2015; Wladis, Wladis, & Hachey, 2014), this study examined whether game-like design strategies can be used to increase the quality of an asynchronous online course experience for undergraduate students. Student engagement is related to learning activities such as student-student, student-instructor, and student-course material interaction, as well as positive factors such as satisfaction, accomplishment, and active and collaborative learning (Kuh, Kinzie, Buckley, Bridges, & Hayek, 2006; Shea et al., 2010). While there is a growing body of literature that deals with using game mechanics in instructional design generally, less is known about how game mechanics can increase student engagement in an online, asynchronous, university-level course. The quasi-treatment design of this study allowed for the comparison of student experiences in two versions of the same asynchronous undergraduate course. Data were collected via an online survey of perceived engagement, LMS-supported analytics, and grades. This study shows the current technology use of the students. The majority of students who participated in this study have been using the internet and computers for seven years or more. Based on this study, designers and instructors of online courses may consider using game-like hidden badges as a way to improve engagement in the asynchronous learning environment. Reward schedules, clues, reminders, and profiles could be essential for efficient implementation of game mechanics.