Term of Award

Spring 2024

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Biology

Committee Chair

Sue Ellen DeChenne-Peters

Committee Member 1

Robert Terry

Committee Member 2

Jennifer Zettler


Mitosis learning is a source of struggle for many introductory biology students. Much of this difficulty stems from an overwhelming amount of terminology and moving pieces as well as the abstract nature of cellular processes. Game-based learning (GBL) has been used in other contexts to reduce cognitive load and provide relatable experiences upon which students can construct their mental models. However, commercial GBL is often expensive and difficult to align with individual instructor teaching preferences and learning objectives. In this study, we use a mixed methods approach to explore the use of a GBL tool made in Twine to overcome some difficulties of mitosis learning and reduce the barriers to using GBL. We conducted an autoethnography of game development in conjunction with gathering pre/post test data from introductory biology students to compare the posttest scores of students who played the game against those who completed instructor activities, students who played the game in-class against those who played it out-of-class, and students who fully completed the game against those who never played the game. Results show that Division Quest promoted higher learning surrounding the visual identification and nature of duplicated chromosomes (likely due to narrative and visual game elements), but inhibited learning surrounding visual identification of mitotic phase from a micrograph (likely due to misalignment of cell images used in the game and those used in assessment). On all other measured criteria, students who played Division Quest learned comparably to students who completed an in-class active learning activity or an at-home pre-lab assignment. Our findings support the use of Twine GBL tools for mitosis learning and highlight game features that appear to facilitate (or detract from) learning. Finally, we discuss future game changes to address the game’s observed shortcomings and implications for the development of similar GBL tools.

OCLC Number


Research Data and Supplementary Material