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Videogame Play and STEM: Perceived Influences of a Sandbox Videogame on College Major Choice



The purpose of this study is to investigate the co-occurring influences be-tween one’s interest in video games and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) through interviewing college freshmen majoring in STEM disciplines who also played video games extensively in high school. Factors such as family background and other affective components are ac-counted for during the 1-on-1 interview process with 11 freshmen university students. A grounded theory approach is taken for data analysis and show themes of motivation for playing sandbox games, fond friendships, choosing challenge over yield, and the connection between Minecraft and STEM ma-jor. The self-perceived influences of sandbox games on freshmen major of choice seem to point that games like Minecraft, if used consciously and with purpose during adolescence, may incline students to choose a STEM major in college.
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Use this link to cite item: In this dissertation, I investigate the extent to which a digital sandbox game that allows for autonomy and peer-to-peer interaction can trigger interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), as well as explore how prior game mastery impacts these changes. The sandbox game, Minecraft, is used as a platform to test whether interest in STEM can be triggered within a digital learning environment for adolescent learners. This study seeks to contribute to our foundational understanding of how interest functions within a digital learning environment.
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