Computer Science and Engineering, Department of


First Advisor

Dr. Shruti Bolman

Date of this Version


Document Type



R. Lafferty, “Packet Delivery: An Investigation of Educational Video Games for Computer Science Education,” M.S. thesis, 2020, University of Nebraska-Lincoln


A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Computer Science, Under the Supervision of Professor Shruti Bolman. Lincoln, Nebraska: December, 2020

Copyright 2020 Robert Casey Lafferty


The field of educational video games has rapidly grown since the 1970s, mostly producing video games to teach core education concepts such as mathematics, natural science, and English. Recently, various research groups have developed educational games to address elective topics such as finance and health. Educational video games often target grade school audiences and rarely target high school students, college students, or adults. Computer science topics are not a common theme among educational video games; the games that address Computer Science topics teach computer fundamentals, such as typing or basic programming, to young audiences.

Packet Delivery, an educational video game for introductory computer science students, is an investigation into the use of apprenticeship learning, constructivism, and scaffolding learning paradigms to teach the Domain Name System (DNS) lookup process. In Packet Delivery, the player's primary task is delivering letters without addresses to recipients via a search mechanism that emulates the DNS lookup process. Through practice and in-game upgrades, the player's goal is to learn the basics of DNS lookup and its optimizations. To analyze comprehension and retention of students playing Packet Delivery, a study containing three tests were given to participants over the course of a few weeks; a pretest gauging prior knowledge, a post-test gauging immediate comprehension, and a follow-up post-test gauging retention. The study provided a proof of concept that educational video games not only have a significant place in higher education, but that apprenticeship learning, constructivism, and scaffolding are highly effective learning paradigms for use within educational video games.

Adviser: Shruti Bolman