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Title page for ETD etd-11262003-090736

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Pfaffman, Jay Alton
Author's Email Address jay@pfaffman.com
URN etd-11262003-090736
Title Manipulating and Measuring Student Engagement in Computer-Based Instruction
Degree PhD
Department Education & Human Development
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Robert D. Sherwood Committee Chair
Charles Kinzer Committee Member
Daniel L. Schwartz Committee Member
Gautam Biswas Committee Member
John Bransford Committee Member
  • technology
  • education
Date of Defense 2003-08-18
Availability unrestricted
This study is based on pilot work that suggested that what makes

hobbies engaging for adults is the opportunity to create an artifact

that can be customized and shared. Further pilot studies showed

that these same traits also contributed to high school seniors'

enjoyment of their favorite activities both outside and inside of

the classroom. These surveys suggested two hypotheses. The weak

hypothesis is that giving students increased opportunities to

create, customize and share will increase engagement. The strong

version of the hypothesis posits that increased engagement will lead

to increased attempts to learn. An instructional experiment tested

these hypotheses. It used three different activities in NetLogo

that varied opportunities to create, customize and share simulations

on population dynamics. The study yielded positive, though

moderate, support for the hypotheses, and provides insight on the

future design of tools for relating motivation and learning with


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