Date of Award

Spring 5-14-2021

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Middle and Secondary Education

First Advisor

Dr. Joseph Feinberg

Second Advisor

Dr. Chantee Earl

Third Advisor

Dr. Chara Bohan

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Yali Zhao

Abstract

In normal times, middle school social studies teachers are challenged to provide their students with curriculum that is both relevant and engaging in the 21st century. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced teachers across the United States to utilize remote instruction and an unprecedented integration of technology to engage and communicate with students. Long after the pandemic when teachers adjust to a new normal, technology will continue to play an integral role to help middle school students become active citizens and leaders. Although video games may not be the first choice for teachers, many middle school children already regularly use games to socialize, communicate, and learn. While video games are not a panacea for student engagement and learning, they provide opportunities to reinforce and enhance learning while engaging students with a technological tool that many students prefer. In this study, purposefully selected 7th grade middle school students from a southeastern state in the United States were interviewed prior to and after playing the video game “Do I Have a Right?” during the COVID-19 pandemic. NVivo software was used for coding and data analytics. Findings showed that learning on multiple levels occurred for the participants while highilighting the relevance of a constructivist philosophy in teaching. This research demonstrated the importance of reflection to reinforce learning and to promote higher levels of thinking.

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