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Learning, Technology, and Design

Research Lab


Elena Novak, Ph.D.


I’m an Associate Professor of Educational Technology at Kent State University. My research centers on innovative uses of technology to support learning, teaching, and design, primarily in STEM contexts. I’m particularly interested in how affective, cognitive, and motivational variables affect students’ learning experiences in digital environments. My current research projects focus on the integration of learning technologies such as 3D printing, robotics, video games, and simulations in education to provide educators with research-informed guidelines on how to integrate technology in various educational settings. I design curricula, assessments, and tools to support and evaluate students’ learning and creativity. In addition, I investigate how video games, particularly action video games, and game-like learning environments foster cognitive and motivational processes that enhance learning. My research was recognized with international awards sponsored by the American Educational Research Association as well as the Association for Educational Communications and Technology.

I earned my Ph.D. in Instructional Systems from Florida State University in 2012. Since then, I have been teaching graduate courses in educational technology, instructional design, and assessment. 

Current Research Projects

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Playing Video Games

3D Printing Technology in Education

We have been investigating best practices for integrating 3D printing technology in a classroom as well as its effects on students’ learning, creativity, and attitudes toward 3D printing technology. Recently, we completed a large systematic literature review that explored how students learn with 3D printing technology in various educational contexts and settings.

Using Technology to Enhance Design Thinking and Creativity

Our current projects focus on enhancing students’ design thinking and creativity using a variety of technologies (blogging, 3D printing, Scratch). We designed curricula, assessments, and tools to support and evaluate students’ creativity and design thinking in these contexts.

Video Games, Learning, and Cognition

Our research in this area centers on game design and play elements, such as storyline, action, and suspense that improve learning and engagement across various learning environments. We are interested in connecting game design and play elements to specific learning benefits to provide practical recommendations for designing effective learning environments. Recent projects focused on Action Video Games (AVG), such as Unreal Tournament, Halo and Call of Duty

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