Date of Award

January 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning

First Advisor

Pamela Beck


This body of work contains three articles that examine the intersectionality between English Language Learner (ELL) teachers and digital games. The purpose of the study is to qualitatively explore the perception of ELL teachers’ use of digital games as educational tools and whether they realize the potential to promote language learning for ELLs. This study aims to understand the lived experiences of ELL teachers to identify their viewpoint of language learning through gaming. The work focuses particularly on the teacher in an effort to contribute empirical work that supports the need for a more holistic approach to digital games in teacher education programs. This dissertation sought to answer four main questions: 1) What is the perception and lived experiences of ELL teachers use of digital games as educational tools?; 2) What are the perceived challenges facing ELL teachers in incorporating digital games?; 3) How does ELL teacher’s perception of digital games influence their use and incorporation?; 4) How do ELL teachers define best practices for digital games in order to promote language learning?

I employed qualitative case study methods with a phenomenological lens to analyze the data. I interviewed six ELL teachers in the upper Midwest of the United States.

The outcome of this study has the potential to enable teachers to use digital games effectively and to ultimately improve teaching and learning. Today, almost every aspect of society requires the use of technology. Therefore, the incorporation of technology into lesson plans is aligned with the needs of society in the 21st century. By adding digital games into classroom learning, educators may be able to better prepare students for their future careers. This preparation can be achieved because digital games have the potential to increase students’ problem-solving skills, as well as spatial and logical reasoning. The upward mobility and learning opportunities in digital games for ELLs are multiplied in fun and engaging ways.