Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Engineering Education

First Advisor

Alice Pawley

Committee Member 1

Brent Jesiek

Committee Member 2

Monica Cardella

Committee Member 3

Brian Castellani

Committee Member 4

Alejandra Magana


In this manuscript a modified commercial game, Minecraft, was used to assist early engineering students' learning the design process. More specifically, a designed-based research approach was employed utilizing a concurrent mixed methods to investigate the use of Minecraft for learning about the concept generation stage of design. Survey instruments measuring understanding of the design process, in-depth interviews on students’ interactions with the platform and iterations of students’ virtual artifacts were captured for analysis. Although no learning gains were detected from pre to post instrument, several analytical methods including visual content analysis of students’ artifacts, discourse analysis of students’ framing of the platform and thematic analysis of their reported formal and informal use of the game provided some evidence of students' engagement with the game, the mechanisms of that engagement, an array of ways in which students may use the platform informally that related to class-work, and the promise of virtual worlds for design learning.