David Tucker

Date of Award

Fall 12-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communications Media

First Advisor

Mark J. Piwinsky, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

James Lenze, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Anna V. Oritz Juarez-Paz, Ph.D.


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.