Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Hung, Wei-Chen

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Educational Technology, Research and Assessment


Video games in education; Video games--Design; Engineering--Study and teaching; Engineering students--Education; Motivation in education--Technology


The use of traditional textbooks in engineering education is uninspiring and unrewarding for engineering students, resulting in many such students' low motivation and lack of interest in their schoolwork. In contrast, the American culture's ubiquitous factor of computer technology devices contributes to effective communication and entertainment. Today, computer videogames are owned and played by 80% of American children between the ages of 8 and 18. Plus, research studies have proven that computer videogame technology can motivate students in learning environments. The use of videogames in education is therefore a user-centered strategy because most youth today are familiar with the technology and also enjoy its entertainment value. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to identify the videogame design and motivational strategies of the educational engineering videogame Spumone. The researcher conducted two interviews with the engineering professor who created Spumone, and also facilitated three focus groups with a total of ten intermediate-level engineering students who had prior experience with Spumone. The researcher organized the data findings into game categories, which provided a structure that revealed evidence of several different design strategies. The researcher also drew on John Keller's ARCS (Attention, Relevance, Confidence and Satisfaction) model of motivation, using this model to classify the engineering students' different types of motivating reactions while engaged in the videogame Spumone. The research data findings addressed the four research questions as follows: (a) identifying the user-centered videogame design strategies; (b) providing evidence of the engineering professor's usage and application of several different videogame design strategies; (c) enumerating different types of videogame design strategies used to motivate students, such as relevance to engineering, captivating attention, and building students' confidence; and (d) providing engineering students' descriptions of varying motivating factors they experienced while engaged in problem-solving gameplay. This research study provides evidence that applying user-centered videogame design strategies can successfully motivate engineering students who can then effectively solve complex physics problems. The study revealed the motivational effects of user-centered educational videogame design strategies that integrate educational content with intrinsic technology and entertainment.


Advisors: Wei-Chen Hung.||Committee members: Brian Coller; Ying Xie.||Includes bibliographical references.||Includes illustrations.


v, 230 pages




Northern Illinois University

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