Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Education

Major

Education

Date of Defense

7-24-2017

Graduate Advisor

Wolfgang Althof

Co-Advisor

Marvin Berkowitz

Committee

Brenda Light Bredemeier

James Gilsinan

David Light Shields

Abstract

The scoring systems used in traditional sports and games are founded on the zero-sum premise that players are on opposite sides and one side can win only if the other side loses. These scoring systems may be effective at nurturing zero-sum mindsets and providing data for assessing performance in win-lose relationships. If so, games that use different scoring systems can be used to facilitate the development of collaborative mindsets, nurture win-win skills between diverse groups, and enable objective self-assessment of performances in non-zero-sum events when engaging with those on “other sides.” Although economic game theory has rich reservoirs of research regarding non-zero-sum games, educators do not commonly make use of game-theory concepts in designing educational games in a format that teachers can use to measure the individual performance of a student when learning together with others in a group. This study presents non-zero-sum games and scoring methods that have been used in teachers’ classrooms, and then analyzes teachers’ perceptions of the effects on students’ character and academic performance that teachers attribute to the games. The study uses qualitative research with semi-structured interviews and thematic analysis. The results show that teachers discern gains in academic achievement and character development when students learn together using games that keep score of cooperative performances. Teachers also identified challenges in using these games and recommended improvements. It is hoped that future work on games that quantify collaboration between different sides will increase the number of productive and peaceful relationships in classrooms and in communities.