S2020_CGT_ThesisDefense_McCordB.pdf (1.29 MB)

Attendance and Social Interdependence in Game Development Labs

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posted on 08.05.2020 by Brantly E McCord
This is an exploratory research study aimed toward steadying attendance across a semester of higher education video game development labs with attention to cooperation as a co-factor. Following the observation of unusually strong attendance in a highly cooperative game development lab class which aligns with these theories, this paper seeks to explore whether subfactors of positive social interdependence are co-factors with lab attendance. Sparked by previous case data, this exploratory study examines data from the Fall 2019 iteration of the introductory video game development course, defining and measuring potential co-factor variables during an individual-focused half of the course supplemented with group activity, and a fully group-focused half of the semester, with future interest in investigating a correlation between attendance and positive interdependence. Empirical studies of both the performance impact of attendance, and the financial reliance of residential higher education institutions on student attendance and retention suggest that understanding how to operationalize students’ motivation to attend class is epistemically and fiscally valuable. Studies of positive interdependence raise interest as a co-factor contextually through high commitment, joint efficacy, and mutual benefit, strongly overlapping with empirical antecedents of higher education retention and seminal social psychological frameworks. Therefore, the author began an intended extensive analysis of consecutive semesters. All students enrolled in the Fall 2019 introductory game development course (n=56 for students with matched data sets, 59 retained participant students total) were engaged in cooperatively-designed lectures and lab activities, with the first half of the semester’s lighter collaborative activity and independent assigned work to be compared to the second half’s full-time group project work. Between these designed halves, two null hypotheses were assessed: 1) lab attendance in the first half of the semester is equivalent to the second half, and 2) subfactors of positive interdependence in the first half of the semester are equivalent to the second half. Attendance proportions and surveyed positive interdependence measures for the Fall 2019 semester were analyzed using paired sample t-tests. Attendance, and a majority of positive interdependence subfactors were not significantly different across halves of the semester, suggesting that collaboration had evened results across the whole, but not all effects reached their target results. The Classroom Life Instrument was used to formally measure the presence of a positive interdependent context before and after group project work.



Degree Type

Master of Science


Computer Graphics Technology

Campus location

West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dr. David M. Whittinghill

Additional Committee Member 2

Dr. Marisa E. Exter

Additional Committee Member 3

Dr. Ronald A. Erdei