David Tucker

Date of Award

Fall 12-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communications Media

First Advisor

Mark J. Piwinsky

Second Advisor

James Lenze

Third Advisor

Anna V. Oritz Juarez-Paz


The purpose of this dissertation was to discover the themes of computer science students as they designed their own instructional systems. This was done by exploring the use of User-Design as a method of instruction for college computer science students. Data shows that there is a high attrition rate in college computer science programs. Perhaps, to solve this problem, this new form of instruction could be applied. I investigated to find patterns while the students designed and developed computer games. In addition, I looked at how they design and cultivate their learning. I also observed and noted their experiences during the process. I used a phenomenological approach to observe computer science students as they developed games. I specifically chose upper level students with a history of success to study because they have already developed good learning strategies. I observed them as they developed their games and conducted interviews to capture their experiences used to develop themes. This study suggests that User-Design has positives and negatives. Students are genuinely motivated and show a heightened sense of ownership when developing their games. But their learning lacked some needed structure that traditional class room instruction provides.