I am passionate about maximizing flow and the self-efficacy of the user experience through the design of cutting-edge technologies that are capable of engaging current and future generations on a level of which they are capable.
Coming from a family of artists, I have always valued elegant, creative solutions to problems. This as well as my success in math and science led me into engineering as an undergraduate. During my graduate work and teaching experiences, I became driven to develop innovative ways of teaching that touch and engage students on a level that best suits their individual capabilities. My years of schooling and disenchantment with traditional learning (such as textbooks and lectures) have led me to pursue immersive, creative, and self-directed forms of learning that can engage in ways similar to new media and popular culture.
My research has supported the idea that learning can be fun while teaching concepts that can be explored and tested through play, with constant feedback and assessment, as is typically found in nature. In this manner, concepts are learned through relationships in a system, rather than memorized devoid of meaning or purpose. Additionally, my research describes several properties of game interfaces and behavior (gameplay) that maximize game player achievement and advancement, which in turn maintain higher levels of motivation and flow.
In my spare time I enjoy photography, love to cook, and enjoy gardening. I am shaping a creative, fulfilling career for myself where I can push the envelope in the pioneering of cutting-edge usability research. To learn more, visit my user experience (UX) research company, called Situated Research.
My research focuses on how students collaboratively make use of video games for learning, taking an open-ended look at what is accomplished while playing games. The research initiated during my doctoral program led me to discover what key aspects make commercial video games tick, and how those design features manifest in collaborative human interaction and engaging game play.
My 1055 page dissertation has equipped me with a toolset for the design and analysis of games, serving as a foundation for me to start my business and publish research in academic journals and books. This research involved videotaping student groups over several days while playing Civilization IV, Making History: The Calm & The Storm, and RollerCoaster Tycoon 3. A qualitative, inductive approach drawing from ethnomethodology and grounded theory provided a detailed description of how exactly students use the game interface and collaboratively learn while they play games. Results described characteristics of learning in games, focusing on the ways students make use of both in-game representations and their peers to accomplish learning. More information, including the abstract, can be found on my research page.
I am a graduate of the Communication and Information Sciences Ph.D. program at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. I previously earned a masters degree in Information and Computer Sciences and worked in the department for six years as a teaching assistant for the introductory Java programming courses. This allowed me to graduate with zero debt from my graduate degrees. During this time I was nominated for the Frances David Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, for which I prepared my teaching philosophy.
I also have the experience of running my own business. During middle school and high school I ran a successful lawn care business while attending a college-preparatory school, where I worked hard during my after-school hours. During my undergraduate at Marquette University in Computer Engineering I carried a full-time job while carrying a full time course load and graduated in four years with minors in Computer Sciences and Math.
In 2008, my wife and I founded a company focusing on usability for software, video games and website usability, called Situated Research. We launched a sister company called CueCamp, which specializes in innovative digital marketing, website design and social media marketing. I am a board member of the Naperville Outdoor Alliance, and also founded the Naperville Business Network with my wife Michel.
Through my life experiences, I have consistently been a person of my word and finished every task that I have started. I rely on my listening skills to learn from others’ experiences, and apply my own practical experience in order to get the job done.
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