Date of Award

Spring 3-6-2024

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Instructional Technology


School of Instructional Technology and Innovation

Committee Chair/First Advisor

Dr. Matthew L. Wilson

Second Advisor

Dr. Mark Warner

Third Advisor

Dr. Joy Li


Digital game-based learning (DGBL) is an innovative learning approach for engaging and teaching students across various content areas. There is a shortfall in the extant literature on DGBL for writing instruction specifically. The purpose of this exploratory multiple-case study was to gain a greater understanding of (a) how teachers plan and deliver writing instruction using a DGBL approach, (b) how they evaluate the impact DGBL has on students’ writing, and (c) the shared experiences two teachers have with using DGBL for writing in two different contexts. Flow theory, activity theory, and TPACK comprised this study's theoretical foundation.

Two teachers with experience using DGBL for writing instruction were selected using purposeful sampling. They each participated in three rounds of in-depth semi-structured interviews and came together at the end in a reflective focus group. They also provided their DGBL writing lesson plans for analysis. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed using ATLAS.ti software. Open coding methods were utilized to generate, categorize, and group codes into emergent themes.

Based on the findings from this multiple-case study, the teacher participants indicated that planning for DGBL writing instruction required some prerequisite knowledge of the digital gaming platform being used, which they acquired through professional development, research, instructional videos, and exploring the game independently. The digital game used by both participants was Minecraft Education. The participating teachers discussed effective pedagogy, supporting resources, and classroom management techniques for teaching writing using DGBL. Regarding perceived student impact, the teacher participants reported high levels of engagement, improved writing confidence, and high-quality writing when using a digital gaming platform for writing instruction. The challenges the teacher participants faced with the implementation of DGBL for writing instruction included initial feelings of apprehension and skepticism, limitations of the writing tool in the chosen gaming platform, and a lack of buy-in from colleagues.

The implications of this research included an increased need for policies that allow for more professional development opportunities for teachers to learn about implementing DGBL for specific content areas and leveraging the knowledge of teacher experts on DGBL to develop and share support resources for DGBL writing instruction. Additionally, feedback provided by the participants for game design improvements addressed what is needed to make a digital game specifically designed for writing instruction more effective. Recommendations for future research included additional qualitative studies based on student perceptions and experiences of using DGBL for writing instruction and quantitative experimental studies using DGBL for writing instruction.

Available for download on Monday, March 23, 2026