Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Xu, Jianzhong

Committee Member

Hare, Dwight

Committee Member

Brocato, Kay

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Curriculum and Instruction

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education


Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education


The purpose of the study was to better understand social studies teacher education through preservice professional development that incorporates an online gaming and simulation component. Examination of the impact of online gaming and simulations on the self-efficacy and content knowledge of preservice teachers in the methods course was undertaken. This study employed a mixed methods approach with primacy given to quantitative statistical analyses of data collected pre and post using a content knowledge assessment (AP Government and Politics practice test) and two self-efficacy assessments (SSTEBI-PSSTE and TSES). Results from a repeated measures ANOVA revealed statistically significant differences in preservice social studies teachers content knowledge of civics from pre to posttest administration by gaming status (less than 2 hours and 2 hours or more), testing occasion (pre and posttest), and group by occasion. The gains in content knowledge by participants spending 2 hours or more gaming were greater than the gains for those who spent less than 2 hours gaming. Qualitative analysis revealed themes of content knowledge change, gaming, and active learning in support of quantitative findings. Results from the repeated measures ANOVA on the TSES measure revealed no significant differences by gaming status, testing occasion, or group by occasion from pre to posttest. There was a minimal raw score change from pre to posttest with the participants who played 2 hours or more in iCivics showing slightly less growth in self-efficacy scores on the TSES in comparison to those playing less than 2 hours in iCivics. Results from the repeated measures ANOVA on the SSTEBI-PSSTE measure revealed a statistically significant main effect for testing occasion. Results showed no significant difference by gaming status or for the interaction of group by occasion. Qualitative data collected throughout the research study via interviews and document analysis aided in the explanation of the quantitative results. The present study extends previous research into the use of games to enhance educational experiences. It is clear from this research that the amount of time spent gaming has an effect on participants‘ content knowledge of civics and that online simulations are an effective teaching method.