Advantages of Virtual Reality in Education| Proposal

5518 words (22 pages) Essay

18th Jun 2018 Education Reference this

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Assignment 2 – Research Proposal

(i) Research aim and questions

In recent years, Virtual Reality (VR) technology has been introduced and incorporated into education. However, its relationship with students’ second language acquisition remains unclear though there are a few researches in the last decade. In this research proposal, I will examine the main advantages of using VR in second language acquisition and analyse its effectiveness on improving students’ self-efficacy based on previous studies. Meanwhile, I will highlight the areas that require further examination and propose my plan to address the following questions:

a) Major Question:

How can Virtual Reality (VR) improve students’ self-efficacy in learning a second language?

b) Sub questions:

1. What factors affect effectiveness of using VR to improve students’ self-efficacy in second language acquisition?

2. What is the difference between using VR and traditional immersion classroom in terms of improving students’ self-efficacy?
3. To what extent can VR improve students’ self-efficacy on long term?

(ii) Hypotheses to address

The following hypotheses are given based on my literature reviews on previous studies and my formulated questions:

1. Using VR can improve students’ self-efficacy in second language acquisition.

2. Using VR in second language learning could improve and sustain students’ self-efficacy on long term.

3. Students find it more comfortable speaking target language to VR rather than in a face-to-face conversation.

4. Using Head Mounted Display (HMD) are more effective than computer screen in improving students’ self-efficacy.

5. Using VR is more effective to improve students’ self-efficacy than immersion language classroom.

(iii) Definitions of key terms

In this part, three key terms, Virtual Reality, Affective Filters and self-efficacy, require definition:

a) Virtual Reality (VR)

The term “Virtual Reality” was used to describe 2D online multiplayer websites that is based on conventional communication through text input (Lin & Lan, 2015). However, Monahan, McArdle, & Bertolotto (2008) observe a significant development of 3D graphic technology that enables VR to be much more immersive and 3D powered.  Lin & Lan (2015) concur that the difference between the VR nowadays are significant from the original concept as they provide authentic life experience through its 3D virtual environment rather than just watching graphics from a computer screen. Hence the term can be best described a system that creates an authentic virtual 3D graphic world where users can view and interact through multi-sensory inputs from external devices (Pan, Cheok, Yang, Zhu, & Shi, 2006). As a result, the definition of “Virtual Reality” in this proposal is focusing on the technology that involves using personal computer or Head Mounted Display (HMD) in classroom education (Limniou, Roberts, & Papadopoulos, 2008) since this definition enables my proposal to focus on its highly immersive 3D graphic features that enhance the interactions between users and the virtual world.

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b) Affective Filters

Affective Filters hypothesis is proposed by Krashen (1982) to describe “attitudinal factors relate directly to acquisition” (p.31) that ” act to prevent input from being used for language acquisition.” (p.32). He categorizes the Affective Filters into three: learners’ self-confidence, motivation and anxiety (p.31), which are closely related to the concept of self-efficacy as below.

c) Self-efficacy

The term “self-efficacy” can be defined as “people’s judgment of their capabilities to organise and execute courses of action required to attain designated types of performances” (Bandura & Schunk, 1981, p. 31). Furthermore, Pajares & Schunk (2001) contextualise the term in education as students’ ability to persist and be resilient when facing challenges in learning. Finally, it is noteworthy that self-efficacy is considered by Oliver, Purdie, & Rochecouste (2005) as one of the major affective factors in students’ process of learning second language acquisition, which fits into Krashen (1982)’s hypothesis of Affective Filters.

(iv) Literature Review

In this section, I will present connections between using VR and improving students’ second language acquisition from my readings. Firstly, I will explain two advantages of using VR in second language learning from previous studies. Afterwards, two researches are presented and discussed to respectively highlight the features of VR technology and to establish the correlation between use of VR and improvement of learner’s self-efficacy. Finally, it is equally important to discuss the limitation of these researches as my proposed research aims to address these issues later.

a) Benefits of using VR in second language learning

To start with, two major advantages are identified in using VR in students’ learning in language: reduction of Affective Filters and synchronised linguistic and physical co-presences.

Reduction of affective filters in using VR in language learning has been established by multiple studies. Schwienhorst (2002) suggests a major difference between conducting a role-play with real person and with a VR is that language learners feel less embarrassed when making mistakes in their conversations since they are aware of the non-judgemental nature of using VR. Furthermore, Moschini (2010) concurs that because second language learners feel that unlike a real person, VR is non-judgemental when their speak, which encourages them to interact with others in the virtual world and ultimately, making them feel more confident and less stressed. In addition, Schwienhorst (2002) points out the possibility of practice the same conversation for much longer time in VR provides learners with higher chance of succeed in speaking as they feel less pressured with more confidence in completing the designated tasks.

Another benefit of using VR in language classroom is that VR synchronises learner’s physical and linguistic co-presences, which results in more effective communication. Clark & Marshall (1981) believe that in order to communicate effectively, it is important to reach mutual knowledge in their conversation between two interlocutors. One important indicator of its effectiveness is the level of synchronisation of learners’ physical location and linguistic one. They furtherly point out that communication cannot be effective unless conversation happens in the same location with speakers’ physical one, which is not always the case in second language learning, suggested by Schwienhorst (2002). He believes that using VR bridges the gap between learners’ physical locations and linguistic co-presence since it offers this immersive environment that makes learners to believe they were somewhere else. Henderson, Henderson, Huang, & Grant, (2009) extend that students’ choice of location words can be facilitated through using VR when they communicate through videolink due to the merge of physical and linguistic co-presences.

b) Second Life research study

The first research by Henderson et al. (2009) establishes the correlation between using VR in language learning and its effectiveness on improving students’ second language acquisition. Meanwhile, another

The Second-Life research is a quantitative research study at Monash University that utilizes VR platform Second Life to improve Chinese language learners’ self-efficacy (Henderson et al., 2009). They design a virtual world where students need to use their created avatar to collaborate with other learners to complete certain Chinese language learning tasks, such as identifying and placing order on Chinese dishes in a Chinese restaurant. Throughout the research Henderson et al. (2009) observes a significant improvement in learners’ self-efficacy as their survey suggests that student believe VR offers a learning experience more authentic and relevant to real world. They conclude that students’ self-efficacy could generally improve by incorporating VR in second language learning.

c) Tag Along Role Play research study

A more recent study, TagAlong Role Play, by Mock (2016) at MIT highlights a few key features of using VR in education due to its continuous technological development. Unlike using the computer screen in the Second-Life research, TagAlong Role Play incorporated Google Cardboard device, a kind of Head Mounted Display (HMD), into language learning (Mock, 2016). He identifies two major differences between using Google Cardboard and its predecessors: higher affordability and 360 degrees spherical view.

The first feature, concurred by Sharples, Cobb, Moody, & Wilson (2008), makes VR technology significantly more accessible to all students in classroom, rather than just a few due to its low cost of purchase. Another implication is that the device is easier to maintain and use compared with its predecessors, making it possible to access to students of different age (Mock, 2016).

Another key difference between using Google Cardboard and a computer screen is the 360 degrees spherical view offered by the former. Rand et al. (2005) suggests that using HMD devices could offer higher level of immersion for learners, which is witnessed in the TagAlong Role Play research (Mock, 2016). Instead of navigating using keyboard, learners simply need to look around when wearing HMD and the tracking system will adjust the image they see accordingly. Thus, this more immersive environment, according to Rand et al. (2005), could elevate sense of presence of VR users, which could ultimately translate into higher level of synchronisation between physical and linguistic co-presence (Schwienhorst, 2002).

The TagAlong Role Play research offers some new features of VR in language education that could not be feasible a few years earlier, which brings some new potentials that have not been examined yet.

d) Limitations and future directions

Despite all the benefits and features of VR mentioned above, it is important to argue that there are certain limitations of the researches above, which require further research on these issues.

To begin with, the effectiveness of using VR to improve students’ self-efficacy on long term remains unexamined. Despite the conclusion drawn by Henderson et al. (2009), they concede that whether such improvement will sustain on long term is not yet confirmed since their study was conducted in a single lesson. Moreover, Bandura (1997) acknowledges the challenge students face when their high self-efficacy does not translate into better result, which could significantly impact their self-efficacy in negative way. Hence, as Henderson et al. (2009) suggests, a research with longer term is required to determine the effectiveness.

Secondly, the impact of those emerging mobile VR devices in second language acquisition has not yet been fully discussed. The devices used in the Self-Life study are different from what we understand as VR in this proposal since Henderson et al. (2009) explain that students used personal computer on an online website in the study. However, in the past several years, VR industry has undergone a revolutionary development in making these devices smaller and more mobile, especially with the Head Mounted Display (HMD) (Lin & Lan, 2015). Therefore, it is only recent that VR could be deployed in language learning classroom on 1:1 ratio due to these developments. However, Mock (2016) acknowledges the implications of such development need further examination.

Finally, Quinn & Hussey (2003) note that “Little has been published on its [VR] efficacy compared to conventional training methods” (p. 164), which challenges the pre-conception that VR is necessarily more effective than other learning methods. Furthermore, they suggest that using VR as the sole instructional tool might make learning less effective rather than what we anticipated. Even with VR being used as supplementary learning tool, its higher effectiveness compared with traditional learning methods are not yet conclusive (Crosier, Cobb, & Wilson, 2000). Therefore, a research comparing the effectiveness of VR with other immersive learning environment, such as language immersion classroom, is warranted for further studies.

(v) Significance of the research

The aim of this research is to contribute to the existing knowledge of self-efficacy in second language acquisition. Besides, it will examine the issue in a school context rather than in a university classroom. In addition, it compares the effectiveness of VR with traditional immersion language classroom. Most importantly, it explores the factors that could be related with the use of VR in learning process. Hence, four major significances are explained as follows:

Firstly, this research aims to contribute to the knowledge of self-efficacy, which plays a crucial role in students’ second language acquisition. Henderson, Henderson, Huang, & Grant (2009) suggest that self-efficacy is an important indicator of students’ learning performance in future, which is concurred by Oliver, Purdie, & Rochecouste (2005) as they believe students with high level of self-efficacy are more likely to achieve successs in learning compared with their low-level counterparts. Meanwhile, the relationship between students’ self-efficacy and their proficiency in reading and listening is emphasised by Mills, Pajares, & Herron (2006) through their research with French learning university students in the United States. To contrast, Krashen (1982) points out that regardless of language learning capacity, if a student has very high affective filter due to low self-confidence or motivation, what student learned in class is unlikely to translate into higher performance in future. Thus, it is important to examine the factors of learners’ self-efficacy in second language acquisition, among which could possibly be related to the features of VR technology although the exact variables are not yet clear.

Secondly, this research aims aims to investigate the effectiveness of VR in improving students’ self-efficacy in secondary school context. Although Henderson et al. (2009) observe signficant improvement in students’ self-efficacy from their studies, the context of a secondary school classroom might be quite different from a university one. In particular, Pajares (2006) implies that compared with adult learners, self-efficacy plays an even more important role in adolescent learners’ learning and achievement since the latter usually have very limited options in motivation, which makes them less resilient than adult learners. As a result, he suggests that adolescent students are unlikely to continue their learning if they do not have a sustainable self-efficacy to complete their learning. Therefore, it is important to research on the effectiveness of using VR on secondary school context so as to provide a clearer picture on how effective VR is in improving self-efficacy in a different educational context.

In addition, this research aims to compare the effectiveness of VR with other teaching methods in language teaching. As Ausburn & Ausburn (2004) and Bowman & McMahan (2007) suggest that despite all the positive result of using VR in education industry, researches comparing VR with those more traditional teaching methods are rarely conducted. Quinn & Hussey (2003) also concur that using VR might not necessarily a more effective teaching methods than others, contradicting with studies from Wong, Ng, & Clark (2000) which suggests that VR is indeed more effective when it comes to training dentistry students. In the context of second language acquisition, although it is still inconclusive to suggest VR is indeed more effective than immersion, it will be exploratory to compare the effectiveness between the twos, which could re-shape our definition of what an immersive language classroom looks like.

Last but not least, this research focus on the factors that determine the effectiveness of VR in improving self-efficacy rather than seeing VR as a powerful tool itself. Ausburn & Ausburn (2004) caution the danger of assuming the tool can be effective without considering of all the contexts and relevant variables. One of the factors could be software design of the VR program as suggested by Riva (2003) who argues that simply having the most advanced device is not enough for VR to be effective in education, rather we need to have a compatible software in order to maximize its effectiveness. Otherwise, as she suggests, the effectiveness could decrease significantly if the ecosystem cannot sustain the learners’ sense of presence by making them to believe what they see is real. From this example, we can assume more factors should be explored when it comes to effectiveness of VR, especially on improving students’ self-efficacy, which is part of the objectives of this research.

(vi) Methodology

Firstly, pragmatism is chosen to be the methodological paradigm due to the nature of this research. Gray (2004) suggests that for pragmatists research tend to focus on a practical issue/phenomenon and idea is true only if the issue can be addressed in a practical manner. In the context of this research, pragmatism is best represented by that aim that using VR will hopefully improve students’ self-efficacy, a practical challenge we are facing in second language learning classrooms every day. As a result, the theoretical perspective of pragmatism encompasses the design of this research.

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In addition, due to the nature of pragmatism in this study, it is designed to be a mixed methods research with two stages of quantitative and qualitative approaches respectively. However, the qualitative stage of the study will be emphasized to answer the main question of this proposal, which is considered as a qualitatively-driven research that incorporates quantitative research to ensure a more comprehensive insight of the problem (Johnson, Onwuegbuzie, & Turner, 2007). Therefore, methodologies of both stages are presented as follows:

First stage is designed to be an quasi-experimental research (quantitative) aiming to validate hypothesis on the correlation between using VR and improving students’ self-efficacy in language learning. Creswell (2012) defines experimental research as “to test an idea, practice or procedure to determine whether it influences an outcome or dependent variable” (p.295). Another advantage of using experimental research is to have control group to exclude the non-necessary variables that could distract our understandings of such relationship. Hence in this proposal, the hypothesis that using VR can improve students’ self-efficacy in long term will be examined by this approach and using experimental research could enable us to establish the potential connections in between.

Second stage is based on the Ground Theory for qualitative research, aiming to explain the factors that influence the effectiveness of VR in improving the learner’s self-efficacy. In his book Gray (2004) suggests the Ground Theory approach to be best involved when there is not a clear agreement on the theoretical framework of certain issue, which is the case for using VR researches in education (Ausburn & Ausburn, 2004). Finally, Gray, (2004) points out that the Grounded Theory could help develop theoretical framework that could be practical in assisting educators, which aligns with the pragmatic paradigm of this research.

(vii) Methods

Based on the methodologies above (quasi-experimental and the Grounded Theory), the first stage involves experimental research (quantitative) using control group and analytical survey before the second stage, based on the Grounded Theory in qualitative research, involves semi-structured interview and open-coding analysis. Finally, it is crucial to secure all participants’ confidentiality throughout this research.

Designated sample groups will consist of two Year 9 classes with student number at around 15 for each group, who are current students at a same Australian secondary college. Each group are expected to have a gender ratio at around 1:1 and have a same second language learning background. One class will involve using VR in their second language learning while the other will be a language immersion classroom without using VR.

  1. Stage 1: Control Group & Survey Research (Quantitative)

First step of the research is to establish control group to manipulate the independent variables in this research. As Gray (2004) suggests that although ideally the sampling groups should be assigned randomly, in reality this is not always the case. It is predicted that the control group will be pre-determined according to school but two classes of similar context could be chosen. Such context includes students’ gender ratio, age, second language learning background, student number, etc. to minimize distracting effects on the dependent variable, which is students’ self-efficacy in this research. More importantly, control group enables the research to compare the effectiveness between using VR and simply using language immersion pedagogy in second language classroom within a highly structured approached as identified as a main feature of control group (Gray, 2004).

Secondly step involves ongoing collection of data for analytical surveys from both groups within a timeframe of one month. The survey is designed to measure students’ self-efficacy before and after using VR in language learning. Compared with the Second-Life study from Henderson et al. (2009), a month’s period enables this research to gain insight into the effectiveness of VR on students’ self-efficacy during a much longer term in comparison to only a single lesson. Questionnaires will be designed based on the research hypothesis and online survey tools will be utilized to collect students’ attitudes towards using VR in language learning. Finally, one-way ANOVA approach is chosen for data analysis in this stage, aiming to establish the correlation between the dependent and independent variables although Punch (2005) cautions that the two groups of humans will almost certainly have different independent variables, making the conclusion less likely to be generalized.

  1. Stage 2: Semi-Structured Interviews

In this stage data will be collected through face-to-face semi-structured interviews with both groups first. Individual interview will be conducted during class time with semi-structured questions that enable the researcher to focus on the research question while remaining flexible for open-coding later. Using such technique, as suggested by Newton, (2010), provides us with rich data in gaining insight into participants’ context, which is considered crucial in helping participants discover the factors that influence their self-efficacy in second language learning and its relationship with using VR. Finally, the interview recording will be transcribed for data analysis.

Finally, the Ground Theory approach is implemented when analysing collected qualitative data from the interview. One highlighted feature of the Grounded Theory is Open Coding, which, according to Gray (2004), involves categorization of different concepts while comparing with each other. Then questions should be asked based on the result of coding before conceptualization of more general categories. Afterwards, using axial and selective coding enable researcher to narrow down the categorization and focus on the variables that influence students’ self-efficacy in second language learning (Gray, 2004). Finally, he also highlights an advantage of mixed methods as using both analytical surveys and interview enable researcher to triangulate the data to get a clearer insight here. Therefore, it is hope that at the end of this stage, factors that influence the effectiveness of VR improving learners’ self-efficacy could be summarized.

  1. Confidentiality

It is paramount for this research to obtain written consents from the following participants after them being fully informed of the research:

  1. School administrations/leadership, participating school principal in this case.
  2. Participating school staffs, this includes classroom teachers, ICT department and other educational support staffs.
  3. Participating students’ parents/guardians from both sampling groups

The implementation of obtaining consent will adhere with relevant policy by using the checklist provided for ethical approval (University of Melbourne, 2017).

In addition, the research will ensure the data involved will be protected and remain anonymous to maintain confidentiality and this includes the data from staffs, parents and participating students. Furthermore, during the semi-structure interview stage, it is important to ensure coding when collecting and analysing all interview notes, transcripts and recordings.

(viii) Assumptions

This proposal is assumed based on:

  1. VR devices are affordable to classroom in which each student can access one VR device.  Contrary to what Chittaro & Ranon (2007) suggest that most classroom cannot afford Head Mounted Displays (HMD), the TagAlong Role Play study using Google Cardboard clearly shows such disadvantage is diminishing with the technological advancement of VR devices (Mock, 2016). Therefore, it is assumed that school can afford one device, such as Google Cardboard, for each student so their exposure to VR could be maximized.
  1. Using VR in second language classroom does improve learners’ self-efficacy from at least a short-term. This assumption is supported by the Second-Life research in which Henderson et al. (2009) demonstrate a significant improvement in short term research.
  1. Both research and control groups will be taught by one same teacher who will be teaching same content using the same curriculum around approximately the same timeframe. This aims to minimize the impact of different teachers influencing students’ self-efficacy in the ways that are not part of this research, which is supported by Pajares (2006) teenagers are particularly susceptible to teachers’ belief and what they say in classroom.

These assumptions enable the research to focus on the factors that improve students’ self-efficacy through using VR in second language classrooms.

(ix) Limitations

Two limitations are identified and discussed while possible solutions are proposed as follows:

Firstly, the control group might vary in different independent variables and thus impact the validity of the survey data. This is a one concern mentioned by Crosier et al. (2000) as they concede it is highly challenging to find equivalent groups in real life and more importantly, as Ausburn & Ausburn (2003) argue against the notion that one technology could solve the problem without taking into account of all the social contextual background. This will result in lowered external validity of the comparison result between the VR group and the language immersion only group. Therefore, it is important to use data reduction technique when analysing them to minimize the impact of irrelevant variables (Punch, 2005). By implementing the technique, the researcher could stay focused on establishing the correlation between the desired independent and dependent variables.

Secondly, another concern is the participants’ health in relation to use VR for longer time. This concern is raised by Mantovani, Castelnuovo, Gaggioli, & Riva (2003) who observe temporary disorientation and nausea among VR users after using for a longer time. However, they admit this effect is largely caused by those out-of-date VR devices. As for solution, using lighter and more recently developed VR device, such as Google Cardboard, can significantly reduce the effect (Mock, 2016). Moreover, he suggests switching from stereoscopic to monosporic viewing mode could minimize such effect. Therefore, Google Cardboard device is chosen to be the VR equipment in this research to give participants options to reduce the effects. Finally, regardless of the equipment, it is important to inform participants, their parents/guardians and school leadership of such concern before the commencement of the research.

References

Ausburn, L. J., & Ausburn, F. B. (2003). A comparison of simultaneous vs. sequential presentation of images in a visual location task to learners with visual and nonvisual perceptual styles: A study of supplantational instructional design. Journal of the Oklahoma Association of Teacher Educators, 7, 1-20.

Ausburn, L. J., & Ausburn, F. B. (2004). Desktop Virtual Reality: A Powerful New Technology for Teaching and Research in Industrial Teacher Education. Journal of Industrial Teacher Education, 41(4), 1-16. Retrieved from http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/JITE/v41n4/ausburn.html

Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The Exercise of Control. Encyclopedia of Human Behavior, 4, 71-81. https://doi.org/10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0836

Bandura, A., & Schunk, D. H. (1981). Cultivating competence, self-efficacy, and intrinsic interest through proximal self-motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 41(3), 586-598. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.41.3.586

Bowman, D. A., & McMahan, R. P. (2007). Virtual reality: How much immersion is enough? Computer, 40(7), 36-43. https://doi.org/10.1109/MC.2007.257

Chittaro, L., & Ranon, R. (2007). Web3D technologies in learning, education and training: Motivations, issues, opportunities. Computers & Education, 49(1), 3-18. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2005.06.002

Clark, H., & Marshall, C. (1981). Definite reference and mutual knowledge. In Elements of Discourse Understanding. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from citeulike-article-id:122353

Creswell, J. W. (2012). Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing Among Five Approaches. Sage Publications, 2nd ed, 2015-2017. https://doi.org/10.1177/1524839915580941

Crosier, J. K., Cobb, S. V. G., & Wilson, J. R. (2000). Experimental Comparison of Virtual Reality with Traditional Teaching Methods for Teaching Radioactivity. Education and Information Technologies, 5(4), 329-343. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1012009725532

Gray, D. E. (2004). Doing Research in the Real World. Book, 1-441. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13398-014-0173-7.2

Henderson, M., Henderson, L., Huang, H., & Grant, S. (2009). Language acquisition in Second Life : Improving self- efficacy beliefs. Ascilite Auckland 2009, 464-474.

Johnson, R. B., Onwuegbuzie, A. J., & Turner, L. A. (2007). Toward a definition of mixed methods research. Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 1(2), 112-133. https://doi.org/10.1177/1558689806298224

Krashen, S. D. (1982a). Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition. The Modern Language Journal (Vol. 67). https://doi.org/10.2307/328293

Krashen, S. D. (1982b). Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition. The Modern Language Journal (Vol. 67). https://doi.org/10.2307/328293

Limniou, M., Roberts, D., & Papadopoulos, N. (2008). Full immersive virtual environment CAVETM in chemistry education. Computers & Education, 51(2), 584-593. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2007.06.014

Lin, T.-J., & Lan, Y.-J. (2015). Language Learning in Virtual Reality Environments: Past, Present, and Future. Ed

Assignment 2 – Research Proposal

(i) Research aim and questions

In recent years, Virtual Reality (VR) technology has been introduced and incorporated into education. However, its relationship with students’ second language acquisition remains unclear though there are a few researches in the last decade. In this research proposal, I will examine the main advantages of using VR in second language acquisition and analyse its effectiveness on improving students’ self-efficacy based on previous studies. Meanwhile, I will highlight the areas that require further examination and propose my plan to address the following questions:

a) Major Question:

How can Virtual Reality (VR) improve students’ self-efficacy in learning a second language?

b) Sub questions:

1. What factors affect effectiveness of using VR to improve students’ self-efficacy in second language acquisition?

2. What is the difference between using VR and traditional immersion classroom in terms of improving students’ self-efficacy?
3. To what extent can VR improve students’ self-efficacy on long term?

(ii) Hypotheses to address

The following hypotheses are given based on my literature reviews on previous studies and my formulated questions:

1. Using VR can improve students’ self-efficacy in second language acquisition.

2. Using VR in second language learning could improve and sustain students’ self-efficacy on long term.

3. Students find it more comfortable speaking target language to VR rather than in a face-to-face conversation.

4. Using Head Mounted Display (HMD) are more effective than computer screen in improving students’ self-efficacy.

5. Using VR is more effective to improve students’ self-efficacy than immersion language classroom.

(iii) Definitions of key terms

In this part, three key terms, Virtual Reality, Affective Filters and self-efficacy, require definition:

a) Virtual Reality (VR)

The term “Virtual Reality” was used to describe 2D online multiplayer websites that is based on conventional communication through text input (Lin & Lan, 2015). However, Monahan, McArdle, & Bertolotto (2008) observe a significant development of 3D graphic technology that enables VR to be much more immersive and 3D powered.  Lin & Lan (2015) concur that the difference between the VR nowadays are significant from the original concept as they provide authentic life experience through its 3D virtual environment rather than just watching graphics from a computer screen. Hence the term can be best described a system that creates an authentic virtual 3D graphic world where users can view and interact through multi-sensory inputs from external devices (Pan, Cheok, Yang, Zhu, & Shi, 2006). As a result, the definition of “Virtual Reality” in this proposal is focusing on the technology that involves using personal computer or Head Mounted Display (HMD) in classroom education (Limniou, Roberts, & Papadopoulos, 2008) since this definition enables my proposal to focus on its highly immersive 3D graphic features that enhance the interactions between users and the virtual world.

b) Affective Filters

Affective Filters hypothesis is proposed by Krashen (1982) to describe “attitudinal factors relate directly to acquisition” (p.31) that ” act to prevent input from being used for language acquisition.” (p.32). He categorizes the Affective Filters into three: learners’ self-confidence, motivation and anxiety (p.31), which are closely related to the concept of self-efficacy as below.

c) Self-efficacy

The term “self-efficacy” can be defined as “people’s judgment of their capabilities to organise and execute courses of action required to attain designated types of performances” (Bandura & Schunk, 1981, p. 31). Furthermore, Pajares & Schunk (2001) contextualise the term in education as students’ ability to persist and be resilient when facing challenges in learning. Finally, it is noteworthy that self-efficacy is considered by Oliver, Purdie, & Rochecouste (2005) as one of the major affective factors in students’ process of learning second language acquisition, which fits into Krashen (1982)’s hypothesis of Affective Filters.

(iv) Literature Review

In this section, I will present connections between using VR and improving students’ second language acquisition from my readings. Firstly, I will explain two advantages of using VR in second language learning from previous studies. Afterwards, two researches are presented and discussed to respectively highlight the features of VR technology and to establish the correlation between use of VR and improvement of learner’s self-efficacy. Finally, it is equally important to discuss the limitation of these researches as my proposed research aims to address these issues later.

a) Benefits of using VR in second language learning

To start with, two major advantages are identified in using VR in students’ learning in language: reduction of Affective Filters and synchronised linguistic and physical co-presences.

Reduction of affective filters in using VR in language learning has been established by multiple studies. Schwienhorst (2002) suggests a major difference between conducting a role-play with real person and with a VR is that language learners feel less embarrassed when making mistakes in their conversations since they are aware of the non-judgemental nature of using VR. Furthermore, Moschini (2010) concurs that because second language learners feel that unlike a real person, VR is non-judgemental when their speak, which encourages them to interact with others in the virtual world and ultimately, making them feel more confident and less stressed. In addition, Schwienhorst (2002) points out the possibility of practice the same conversation for much longer time in VR provides learners with higher chance of succeed in speaking as they feel less pressured with more confidence in completing the designated tasks.

Another benefit of using VR in language classroom is that VR synchronises learner’s physical and linguistic co-presences, which results in more effective communication. Clark & Marshall (1981) believe that in order to communicate effectively, it is important to reach mutual knowledge in their conversation between two interlocutors. One important indicator of its effectiveness is the level of synchronisation of learners’ physical location and linguistic one. They furtherly point out that communication cannot be effective unless conversation happens in the same location with speakers’ physical one, which is not always the case in second language learning, suggested by Schwienhorst (2002). He believes that using VR bridges the gap between learners’ physical locations and linguistic co-presence since it offers this immersive environment that makes learners to believe they were somewhere else. Henderson, Henderson, Huang, & Grant, (2009) extend that students’ choice of location words can be facilitated through using VR when they communicate through videolink due to the merge of physical and linguistic co-presences.

b) Second Life research study

The first research by Henderson et al. (2009) establishes the correlation between using VR in language learning and its effectiveness on improving students’ second language acquisition. Meanwhile, another

The Second-Life research is a quantitative research study at Monash University that utilizes VR platform Second Life to improve Chinese language learners’ self-efficacy (Henderson et al., 2009). They design a virtual world where students need to use their created avatar to collaborate with other learners to complete certain Chinese language learning tasks, such as identifying and placing order on Chinese dishes in a Chinese restaurant. Throughout the research Henderson et al. (2009) observes a significant improvement in learners’ self-efficacy as their survey suggests that student believe VR offers a learning experience more authentic and relevant to real world. They conclude that students’ self-efficacy could generally improve by incorporating VR in second language learning.

c) Tag Along Role Play research study

A more recent study, TagAlong Role Play, by Mock (2016) at MIT highlights a few key features of using VR in education due to its continuous technological development. Unlike using the computer screen in the Second-Life research, TagAlong Role Play incorporated Google Cardboard device, a kind of Head Mounted Display (HMD), into language learning (Mock, 2016). He identifies two major differences between using Google Cardboard and its predecessors: higher affordability and 360 degrees spherical view.

The first feature, concurred by Sharples, Cobb, Moody, & Wilson (2008), makes VR technology significantly more accessible to all students in classroom, rather than just a few due to its low cost of purchase. Another implication is that the device is easier to maintain and use compared with its predecessors, making it possible to access to students of different age (Mock, 2016).

Another key difference between using Google Cardboard and a computer screen is the 360 degrees spherical view offered by the former. Rand et al. (2005) suggests that using HMD devices could offer higher level of immersion for learners, which is witnessed in the TagAlong Role Play research (Mock, 2016). Instead of navigating using keyboard, learners simply need to look around when wearing HMD and the tracking system will adjust the image they see accordingly. Thus, this more immersive environment, according to Rand et al. (2005), could elevate sense of presence of VR users, which could ultimately translate into higher level of synchronisation between physical and linguistic co-presence (Schwienhorst, 2002).

The TagAlong Role Play research offers some new features of VR in language education that could not be feasible a few years earlier, which brings some new potentials that have not been examined yet.

d) Limitations and future directions

Despite all the benefits and features of VR mentioned above, it is important to argue that there are certain limitations of the researches above, which require further research on these issues.

To begin with, the effectiveness of using VR to improve students’ self-efficacy on long term remains unexamined. Despite the conclusion drawn by Henderson et al. (2009), they concede that whether such improvement will sustain on long term is not yet confirmed since their study was conducted in a single lesson. Moreover, Bandura (1997) acknowledges the challenge students face when their high self-efficacy does not translate into better result, which could significantly impact their self-efficacy in negative way. Hence, as Henderson et al. (2009) suggests, a research with longer term is required to determine the effectiveness.

Secondly, the impact of those emerging mobile VR devices in second language acquisition has not yet been fully discussed. The devices used in the Self-Life study are different from what we understand as VR in this proposal since Henderson et al. (2009) explain that students used personal computer on an online website in the study. However, in the past several years, VR industry has undergone a revolutionary development in making these devices smaller and more mobile, especially with the Head Mounted Display (HMD) (Lin & Lan, 2015). Therefore, it is only recent that VR could be deployed in language learning classroom on 1:1 ratio due to these developments. However, Mock (2016) acknowledges the implications of such development need further examination.

Finally, Quinn & Hussey (2003) note that “Little has been published on its [VR] efficacy compared to conventional training methods” (p. 164), which challenges the pre-conception that VR is necessarily more effective than other learning methods. Furthermore, they suggest that using VR as the sole instructional tool might make learning less effective rather than what we anticipated. Even with VR being used as supplementary learning tool, its higher effectiveness compared with traditional learning methods are not yet conclusive (Crosier, Cobb, & Wilson, 2000). Therefore, a research comparing the effectiveness of VR with other immersive learning environment, such as language immersion classroom, is warranted for further studies.

(v) Significance of the research

The aim of this research is to contribute to the existing knowledge of self-efficacy in second language acquisition. Besides, it will examine the issue in a school context rather than in a university classroom. In addition, it compares the effectiveness of VR with traditional immersion language classroom. Most importantly, it explores the factors that could be related with the use of VR in learning process. Hence, four major significances are explained as follows:

Firstly, this research aims to contribute to the knowledge of self-efficacy, which plays a crucial role in students’ second language acquisition. Henderson, Henderson, Huang, & Grant (2009) suggest that self-efficacy is an important indicator of students’ learning performance in future, which is concurred by Oliver, Purdie, & Rochecouste (2005) as they believe students with high level of self-efficacy are more likely to achieve successs in learning compared with their low-level counterparts. Meanwhile, the relationship between students’ self-efficacy and their proficiency in reading and listening is emphasised by Mills, Pajares, & Herron (2006) through their research with French learning university students in the United States. To contrast, Krashen (1982) points out that regardless of language learning capacity, if a student has very high affective filter due to low self-confidence or motivation, what student learned in class is unlikely to translate into higher performance in future. Thus, it is important to examine the factors of learners’ self-efficacy in second language acquisition, among which could possibly be related to the features of VR technology although the exact variables are not yet clear.

Secondly, this research aims aims to investigate the effectiveness of VR in improving students’ self-efficacy in secondary school context. Although Henderson et al. (2009) observe signficant improvement in students’ self-efficacy from their studies, the context of a secondary school classroom might be quite different from a university one. In particular, Pajares (2006) implies that compared with adult learners, self-efficacy plays an even more important role in adolescent learners’ learning and achievement since the latter usually have very limited options in motivation, which makes them less resilient than adult learners. As a result, he suggests that adolescent students are unlikely to continue their learning if they do not have a sustainable self-efficacy to complete their learning. Therefore, it is important to research on the effectiveness of using VR on secondary school context so as to provide a clearer picture on how effective VR is in improving self-efficacy in a different educational context.

In addition, this research aims to compare the effectiveness of VR with other teaching methods in language teaching. As Ausburn & Ausburn (2004) and Bowman & McMahan (2007) suggest that despite all the positive result of using VR in education industry, researches comparing VR with those more traditional teaching methods are rarely conducted. Quinn & Hussey (2003) also concur that using VR might not necessarily a more effective teaching methods than others, contradicting with studies from Wong, Ng, & Clark (2000) which suggests that VR is indeed more effective when it comes to training dentistry students. In the context of second language acquisition, although it is still inconclusive to suggest VR is indeed more effective than immersion, it will be exploratory to compare the effectiveness between the twos, which could re-shape our definition of what an immersive language classroom looks like.

Last but not least, this research focus on the factors that determine the effectiveness of VR in improving self-efficacy rather than seeing VR as a powerful tool itself. Ausburn & Ausburn (2004) caution the danger of assuming the tool can be effective without considering of all the contexts and relevant variables. One of the factors could be software design of the VR program as suggested by Riva (2003) who argues that simply having the most advanced device is not enough for VR to be effective in education, rather we need to have a compatible software in order to maximize its effectiveness. Otherwise, as she suggests, the effectiveness could decrease significantly if the ecosystem cannot sustain the learners’ sense of presence by making them to believe what they see is real. From this example, we can assume more factors should be explored when it comes to effectiveness of VR, especially on improving students’ self-efficacy, which is part of the objectives of this research.

(vi) Methodology

Firstly, pragmatism is chosen to be the methodological paradigm due to the nature of this research. Gray (2004) suggests that for pragmatists research tend to focus on a practical issue/phenomenon and idea is true only if the issue can be addressed in a practical manner. In the context of this research, pragmatism is best represented by that aim that using VR will hopefully improve students’ self-efficacy, a practical challenge we are facing in second language learning classrooms every day. As a result, the theoretical perspective of pragmatism encompasses the design of this research.

In addition, due to the nature of pragmatism in this study, it is designed to be a mixed methods research with two stages of quantitative and qualitative approaches respectively. However, the qualitative stage of the study will be emphasized to answer the main question of this proposal, which is considered as a qualitatively-driven research that incorporates quantitative research to ensure a more comprehensive insight of the problem (Johnson, Onwuegbuzie, & Turner, 2007). Therefore, methodologies of both stages are presented as follows:

First stage is designed to be an quasi-experimental research (quantitative) aiming to validate hypothesis on the correlation between using VR and improving students’ self-efficacy in language learning. Creswell (2012) defines experimental research as “to test an idea, practice or procedure to determine whether it influences an outcome or dependent variable” (p.295). Another advantage of using experimental research is to have control group to exclude the non-necessary variables that could distract our understandings of such relationship. Hence in this proposal, the hypothesis that using VR can improve students’ self-efficacy in long term will be examined by this approach and using experimental research could enable us to establish the potential connections in between.

Second stage is based on the Ground Theory for qualitative research, aiming to explain the factors that influence the effectiveness of VR in improving the learner’s self-efficacy. In his book Gray (2004) suggests the Ground Theory approach to be best involved when there is not a clear agreement on the theoretical framework of certain issue, which is the case for using VR researches in education (Ausburn & Ausburn, 2004). Finally, Gray, (2004) points out that the Grounded Theory could help develop theoretical framework that could be practical in assisting educators, which aligns with the pragmatic paradigm of this research.

(vii) Methods

Based on the methodologies above (quasi-experimental and the Grounded Theory), the first stage involves experimental research (quantitative) using control group and analytical survey before the second stage, based on the Grounded Theory in qualitative research, involves semi-structured interview and open-coding analysis. Finally, it is crucial to secure all participants’ confidentiality throughout this research.

Designated sample groups will consist of two Year 9 classes with student number at around 15 for each group, who are current students at a same Australian secondary college. Each group are expected to have a gender ratio at around 1:1 and have a same second language learning background. One class will involve using VR in their second language learning while the other will be a language immersion classroom without using VR.

  1. Stage 1: Control Group & Survey Research (Quantitative)

First step of the research is to establish control group to manipulate the independent variables in this research. As Gray (2004) suggests that although ideally the sampling groups should be assigned randomly, in reality this is not always the case. It is predicted that the control group will be pre-determined according to school but two classes of similar context could be chosen. Such context includes students’ gender ratio, age, second language learning background, student number, etc. to minimize distracting effects on the dependent variable, which is students’ self-efficacy in this research. More importantly, control group enables the research to compare the effectiveness between using VR and simply using language immersion pedagogy in second language classroom within a highly structured approached as identified as a main feature of control group (Gray, 2004).

Secondly step involves ongoing collection of data for analytical surveys from both groups within a timeframe of one month. The survey is designed to measure students’ self-efficacy before and after using VR in language learning. Compared with the Second-Life study from Henderson et al. (2009), a month’s period enables this research to gain insight into the effectiveness of VR on students’ self-efficacy during a much longer term in comparison to only a single lesson. Questionnaires will be designed based on the research hypothesis and online survey tools will be utilized to collect students’ attitudes towards using VR in language learning. Finally, one-way ANOVA approach is chosen for data analysis in this stage, aiming to establish the correlation between the dependent and independent variables although Punch (2005) cautions that the two groups of humans will almost certainly have different independent variables, making the conclusion less likely to be generalized.

  1. Stage 2: Semi-Structured Interviews

In this stage data will be collected through face-to-face semi-structured interviews with both groups first. Individual interview will be conducted during class time with semi-structured questions that enable the researcher to focus on the research question while remaining flexible for open-coding later. Using such technique, as suggested by Newton, (2010), provides us with rich data in gaining insight into participants’ context, which is considered crucial in helping participants discover the factors that influence their self-efficacy in second language learning and its relationship with using VR. Finally, the interview recording will be transcribed for data analysis.

Finally, the Ground Theory approach is implemented when analysing collected qualitative data from the interview. One highlighted feature of the Grounded Theory is Open Coding, which, according to Gray (2004), involves categorization of different concepts while comparing with each other. Then questions should be asked based on the result of coding before conceptualization of more general categories. Afterwards, using axial and selective coding enable researcher to narrow down the categorization and focus on the variables that influence students’ self-efficacy in second language learning (Gray, 2004). Finally, he also highlights an advantage of mixed methods as using both analytical surveys and interview enable researcher to triangulate the data to get a clearer insight here. Therefore, it is hope that at the end of this stage, factors that influence the effectiveness of VR improving learners’ self-efficacy could be summarized.

  1. Confidentiality

It is paramount for this research to obtain written consents from the following participants after them being fully informed of the research:

  1. School administrations/leadership, participating school principal in this case.
  2. Participating school staffs, this includes classroom teachers, ICT department and other educational support staffs.
  3. Participating students’ parents/guardians from both sampling groups

The implementation of obtaining consent will adhere with relevant policy by using the checklist provided for ethical approval (University of Melbourne, 2017).

In addition, the research will ensure the data involved will be protected and remain anonymous to maintain confidentiality and this includes the data from staffs, parents and participating students. Furthermore, during the semi-structure interview stage, it is important to ensure coding when collecting and analysing all interview notes, transcripts and recordings.

(viii) Assumptions

This proposal is assumed based on:

  1. VR devices are affordable to classroom in which each student can access one VR device.  Contrary to what Chittaro & Ranon (2007) suggest that most classroom cannot afford Head Mounted Displays (HMD), the TagAlong Role Play study using Google Cardboard clearly shows such disadvantage is diminishing with the technological advancement of VR devices (Mock, 2016). Therefore, it is assumed that school can afford one device, such as Google Cardboard, for each student so their exposure to VR could be maximized.
  1. Using VR in second language classroom does improve learners’ self-efficacy from at least a short-term. This assumption is supported by the Second-Life research in which Henderson et al. (2009) demonstrate a significant improvement in short term research.
  1. Both research and control groups will be taught by one same teacher who will be teaching same content using the same curriculum around approximately the same timeframe. This aims to minimize the impact of different teachers influencing students’ self-efficacy in the ways that are not part of this research, which is supported by Pajares (2006) teenagers are particularly susceptible to teachers’ belief and what they say in classroom.

These assumptions enable the research to focus on the factors that improve students’ self-efficacy through using VR in second language classrooms.

(ix) Limitations

Two limitations are identified and discussed while possible solutions are proposed as follows:

Firstly, the control group might vary in different independent variables and thus impact the validity of the survey data. This is a one concern mentioned by Crosier et al. (2000) as they concede it is highly challenging to find equivalent groups in real life and more importantly, as Ausburn & Ausburn (2003) argue against the notion that one technology could solve the problem without taking into account of all the social contextual background. This will result in lowered external validity of the comparison result between the VR group and the language immersion only group. Therefore, it is important to use data reduction technique when analysing them to minimize the impact of irrelevant variables (Punch, 2005). By implementing the technique, the researcher could stay focused on establishing the correlation between the desired independent and dependent variables.

Secondly, another concern is the participants’ health in relation to use VR for longer time. This concern is raised by Mantovani, Castelnuovo, Gaggioli, & Riva (2003) who observe temporary disorientation and nausea among VR users after using for a longer time. However, they admit this effect is largely caused by those out-of-date VR devices. As for solution, using lighter and more recently developed VR device, such as Google Cardboard, can significantly reduce the effect (Mock, 2016). Moreover, he suggests switching from stereoscopic to monosporic viewing mode could minimize such effect. Therefore, Google Cardboard device is chosen to be the VR equipment in this research to give participants options to reduce the effects. Finally, regardless of the equipment, it is important to inform participants, their parents/guardians and school leadership of such concern before the commencement of the research.

References

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