Esquivel, Christi (2020-07). Analyzing the Feasibility of a Game-Based Learning Program to Prevent Teen Pregnancy: A Case Study. Doctoral Dissertation.
While teen birth rates are at an all-time low for the United States, teen pregnancy remains a public health concern as significant disparities remain among demographic groups and geographical regions. There are 40+ evidence-based programs (EBPs) available, yet few exist for rural populations. Through a community-academic partnership, a community-based organization (CBO) in a rural town of North Carolina developed an innovative teen pregnancy prevention, game-based learning program for youth, Using The Connect (UTC). The purpose of this dissertation was to analyze the feasibility of UTC in a CBO. The researcher focused on three aspects of feasibility - acceptability, implementation, and practicality. Michael's Angels Girls Club, Inc. (MAGC) implemented UTC with middle-school aged youth three times in Spring 2019, during which the researcher collected four sources of data from youth and facilitators. Observations documented facilitation of, and participation in UTC. Youth surveys assessed experiences, likes and dislikes, perceived learning, and interest in participating in UTC again. Facilitated discussions allowed youth to vocalize their experiences and opinions about UTC. Through interviews, facilitators described their experiences and perceptions of delivering UTC. For each aspect of feasibility (acceptability, implementation, and practicality) the research team analyzed varying combinations of data. Acceptability revealed youth insight on UTC and what made it acceptable to them. Implementation identified factors affecting the implementation process. Practicality gauged expediency of implementing UTC to affect sexual health knowledge and skills. Results from the three studies provide insight on UTC feasibility for the developers to make modifications and researchers to formally evaluate the effectiveness and implementation of UTC. The results suggest: 1) regarding acceptability, youth liked UTC because it felt like playing actual games while learning about sexual health; 2) implementation of UTC required minimal organizational capacity aside from time, space, and facilitators; and 3) UTC is a practical option for CBOs to equip youth with sexual health knowledge and skills. Through this dissertation, the researcher concluded UTC is a feasible option, particularly for rural CBOs as it is fun and engaging for youth, easy for organizations to implement with minimal burdens and a flexible structure that can be tailored to the community.