Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Education and Human Services


Learning Sciences and Human Development

Committee Chair

Terence C. Ahern

Committee Co-Chair

Marjorie Darrah

Committee Member

D. J. Hendricks

Committee Member

Ugur Kale

Committee Member

Neal Shambaugh


This study investigated the effects of a game-like environment on instructional activity design and the use of student mentors on learning outcomes in a middle school general science class. The participants for this study were 165 students, ages 13-14 years old, who were enrolled in 8th grade at a mid-Atlantic middle school. Two research questions were used to conduct the research:;1. Can science content be designed and successfully delivered instructionally using a game-like learning environment?;2. Does the use of student mentors/assistants help direct and maintain the flow of the class away from the technological issues toward the necessary learning outcomes while also increasing the science content understanding acquired by the mentors while also increasing class and student engagement?;For this study an introductory biology unit was designed using a game-like curricular structure. Student mentors were utilized in order to aid focus on the content and not the technology. The results indicated that the instructional design of the unit using a game-like environment was successful and students exhibited learning. The mentor students were instrumental in steering their fellow students away from the "Siren's Call" of the instrument (in this case StarLogo) and enabled increased focus on the content.;Keywords: Trivial games, Serious Games, Epistemic Games, Student Mentors, StarLogo, Elaboration Theory.