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Formative research on an instructional design theory for educational video games

, Indiana University, United States

Indiana University . Awarded


An increasing number of researchers have acknowledged the deficiencies of current instructional approaches by turning to educational video games. Proponents of educational video games believe that they are the future of instruction, and the number of proponents is increasing as well. The Federation of American Scientists recently touted video games as having the potential to transform education and called for federal support for research on educational games, including how to best design them.

However, the number of quality research studies on educational video games is limited. Perhaps one reason for this is the lack of educational video games for researchers to implement in classrooms as well as the challenge of creating video games that are both engaging and educational. This study describes formative research conducted on the Games for Activating Thematic Engagement (GATE) instructional design theory, which was developed to guide both the design and implementation of educational video games. Formative research seeks to identify improvements for an instructional design theory based on a designed instance of this theory, in this case Lifecycle, an educational video game designed for use in an undergraduate course on systems analysis and design. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the GATE theory by answering the following questions: (1) what GATE methods and recommendations work well? (2) Which ones do not work well? and (3) What improvements can be made?

Formative evaluation was conducted on the video game representing the designed instance of the GATE theory, using semi-structured interviews, a focus group interview, written participant reflections, and document analysis of the video game's design documents.

The results showed that it is feasible for a single instructional designer to design and develop an educational video game with limited resources. Student responses to the game were largely positive, but a number of specific improvements for the GATE theory were identified.


Watson, W.R. Formative research on an instructional design theory for educational video games. Ph.D. thesis, Indiana University. Retrieved February 22, 2020 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

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