Carly Finseth, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Technical Communication
Boise State University



Teach like a gamer: Adapting the instructional design of digital role-playing games. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. March 2018.

Peer-Reviewed Articles

Instructional design and software documentation. Syllabus, 6(1). July 2017.

The structure of play: An exploration of the instructional design of Rift. The Journal of Applied Instructional Design, 5(1), 35-50. November 2015.

Theorycrafting the classroom: Constructing the introductory technical communication course as a game. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 45(3), 243-260. July 2015.

How games work: Exploring the instructional design of Diablo III. Meaningful Play 2014 Conference Proceedings, October 2014.

An open source composition space: Redefining invention for a new technological age. Computers and Composition Online, Fall 2013.

Book Reviews and Review Essays

A review of Dangerous Games: What the Moral Panic over Role-Playing Games Says about Play, Religion, and Imagined Worlds by Joseph P. Laycock. Technoculture: An Online Journal of Technology in Society, 6(1). October 2016.

Using games to make something: Of our students, our pedagogies, our field. A review essay of Gee & Hayes (2011), Squire (2011), Steinkuehler et al (2012), and Thomas & Brown (2011). Journal of Teaching Writing, 29(2), 85-98. Fall 2014.

A review of Inter/vention: Free Play in the Age of Electracy by Jan Rune Holmevik. Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy, 18.2, Spring 2014.

A review of Storycraft: The Complete Guide to Writing Narrative Nonfiction by Jack Hart, Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2011. 266 pp. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 43(1), 103-105. Fall 2013.


Laboring Language via the Introductory Technical Writing Course: Transforming Writing Pedagogies through Active and Engaged Consciousness. Panel presentation with Debra Purdy, Mike Markley, and Heidi Naylor. 2018 Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC), Kansas City, MO (2018; accepted).

Teaching Like a Gamer: Using Games-Based Pedagogical Practices to Improve Online Learning. 39th Annual Southwest Popular Culture/American Culture Conference (SWPACA), Albuquerque, NM (2018; forthcoming).

Designing a collaborative learning space for active, student-centered learning. Poster presentation with Shauna Anderson. Great Ideas for Teaching and Learning Symposium, Boise, ID (2017; accepted).

Technical communication genres as social construction in online gaming communities. PCA/ACA 2016 Annual Conference, Seattle, WA (2016).

Leadership and the intersection of games. Southwest PCA/ACA Conference (SWPACA), Albuquerque, NM (2016).

How games work: Exploring the instructional design of Diablo III. Meaningful Play, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI (2014).

Methodologies as message: Exploring four unique approaches to pedagogical research and their application to programmatic change. Conference of the Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication (CPTSC), Colorado Springs, CO (2014).

Facing the interface: Evolving practices for user-centered teaching and learning. Computers & Writing, Pullman, WA (2014).

Choose your origin: A games-based approach to 'partnering' a digital writing curriculum. Southwest Popular Culture and American Culture Association (SWPACA) Conference, Albuquerque, NM (2014).

Composition quest: Constructing the technical writing classroom as a game. Meaningful Play, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI (2012).

The social hierarchy of the Joomla! content management system (CMS): What the open source community can teach us about knowledge creation, power, and collaboration. Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC), Atlanta, GA (2011).

The impact of technologies on writing practices and community collaboration. Computers & Writing, West Lafayette, IN (2010).

Communication and the Joomla! open source content management system (CMS): How social networking has redefined instructional documentation. Graduate Symposium on Communication: Communication in the 21st Century: Obstacles and Opportunities, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA (2010).


I teach graduate and undergraduate courses in technical writing, user experience, and documentation.

Current Courses

  • English 535: User Experience
  • English 521: Current Trends in Technical Communication
  • English 518: Writing Software Documentation
  • English 416: Interaction Design for Technical Communicators
  • English 415: Instructional Design and Software Documentation
  • English 202: Introduction to Technical Communication

Past Courses

  • English 415: On-Screen Document Production, Boise State University
  • English 2311: Introduction to Technical Writing, Texas Tech University
  • English 2311: Introduction to Technical Writing: Globally-Connected Online Course, Texas Tech University
  • English 1301: Essentials of College Rhetoric, Texas Tech University
  • English 103: Accelerated Composition: Culture, Identity, and Society, Clemson University

Honors and Awards

Designing with Open Educational Resources (DOER) Fellowship Grant, Open Education Group funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Lumen, and Brigham Young University, 2017-2018 (with Jonathan Lashley)

Outstanding Faculty Award, Department of English, Boise State University, 2016-2017

Nominee, Golden Apple Award for Exceptional Faculty, Boise State University, 2016-2017

Doctoral Dissertation Completion Fellowship, Texas Tech University, 2014-2015

Top Technical Writing Instructor, Texas Tech University English Department, 2014

Helen Locke Carter Memorial Scholarship, Texas Tech University, 2013

Texas Tech University Graduate School Competitive Travel Grant Texas Tech University, 2012

Thomas E. Douglass Award for Excellence in Teaching, Clemson University, 2011

Clemson University English Department Competitive Travel Grant, Clemson University, 2011

Society for Technical Communication Ernie Mazzatenta Scholarship, Society for Technical Communication, 2010


I'm an assistant professor of English at Boise State University where I teach undergraduate and graduate courses in user experience, usability, and interaction design; documentation and instructional design; and technical writing. My book Teach like a gamer: Adapting the instructional design of digital role-playing games is forthcoming from McFarland Books.

I have more than 15 years of experience in publications management, writing, editing, and design. I also have several years of professional experience as a project engineer in the semiconductor industry. Currently I am an associate editor for the International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations, a reviewer for Technical Communication: Journal of the Society for Technical Communication, and an editorial review board member for Not Your Mama’s Gamer. I am also the faculty advisor for Boise State's Tech Comm Games Guild, where students from a variety of disciplines across campus come together to play games, create games, and learn about games and technical communication.

I am particularly fascinated with the intersections between learning, teaching, and games, so when I'm not teaching or researching, you’ll likely find me exploring the latest MMO or downloading more games than I'll ever have the time to play.