Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Yaoying Xu


The study explored the relationship of play and development in adolescents. It was developed to determine if play in adolescents has a cognitive developmental purpose. The research design was a quantitative study with qualitative elements. The design of the study consisted two groups of participants who engaged in either a computer program to test cognitive skills or a computer game which contains the same tests. The participants (N = 216) were adolescent males and females (ages 12-19) from urban mid-Atlantic Catholic high schools. After vetting the data, the total was N = 167 and only included males (ages 14-19). The study indicated that adolescent males performed the cognitive tasks of memory and reading better in the play condition than the work condition and performed the cognitive tasks of logic and mathematics better in the work condition than the play condition. Differences in performance related to age are not present. This study suggests that play may have an effect on adolescents’ cognitive development; therefore, it can be used as an effective method for some types of instruction. The study may contribute to the literature with the groundwork for further research exploring the cognitive nature of play in adolescents and its potential impact on identity formation.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2012