Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Teaching, Learning, and Technology

First Adviser

Hammond, Thomas C.


Game-based learning has entered the mainstream, yet little research has examined its influence within an early elementary setting, in the subject of history, or within the context of entire curricular unit. This dissertation examines two years' worth of data during which an augmented reality, geolocated mobile game was embedded within a second-grade history unit. Using a designed-based research approach, I designed and implemented this digital game using the ARIS platform and then examined impacts upon student experiences, student learning within and beyond the intended curriculum, and on teachers’ decision-making and planning. Over the course of the two years, 58 students and 3 teachers participated.Analysis indicates that early elementary students can experience flow and a magic circle while playing a constructivist-influenced game. While indicators of curriculum specified learning are inconclusive, data suggest that there may be a game-effect for learning beyond the curriculum, greater retention for some students, and a greater level of enthusiasm and sense of ownership of historical content. Findings also suggest teachers’ perceptions of curriculum-embedded games evolved over two years from that of being an ‘add-on’ to being a catalyst for learning. Their role shifted from that of direct instructor to that of facilitator, thus influencing their instructional decision-making. Implications for research, game-design, and teaching are provided.