Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Doctor of Education in Educational Technology


Educational Technology

Major Advisor

Ross Perkins, Ph.D.

Major Advisor

Chareen Snelson, Ph.D.


Youngkyun Baek, Ph.D.


Critical thinking and problem solving are identified as 21st century skills crucial to the process of foreign language acquisition, and include negotiating and co-constructing meaning in order to effectively communicate with others (Committee for Economic Development, 2006). The purpose of this study was to replicate earlier research in which university-aged French language learners participated in task-based activities within the social game environment of SecondLife to produce discourse representing critical thinking and negotiation of meaning. Through purposeful modifications, this replication study investigated the collective discourse produced by a group of elementary-aged English Language Learners (ELLs) engaged in task-based activities within the social gaming environment of MinecraftEDU in order to determine if patterns of critical thinking, problem solving, and negotiation and co-construction of meaning were present. This qualitative study employed a case study methodology, utilizing Hull and Saxon’s (2009) Coding Table for Social Constructivist Interactions to determine levels and occurrences of critical thinking, problem solving, and negotiation and co-construction of meaning. Through the course of the nine-day intervention, patterns of negotiation and con-construction of meaning were not identified. Students overwhelmingly engaged in conversations containing simple observations and opinions, as well as clarifying questions that reflected lower-order thinking skills. Additionally, the researcher used qualitative content analysis to identify emergent themes indicating the ways in which the students communicated with one another in the target language. From this analysis, three themes emerged that are classified as Independent Game Play, Importance of Objectives, and Deviant Behavior. Implications from this study include social game design and use within foreign language instruction, identity exploration within an online environment, and reduced fear of failure when participating in a social game. Recommendations for future research are suggested.