The impact of virtual environment on second language production: An exploratory study
Cindy Bumgarner, Pepperdine University, United States
Pepperdine University . Awarded
The goal of this research was to analyze the language produced within virtual learning environments to determine effect on linguistic production and task success rate. In order to make this comparison, two researchers, the author and Mentz (2005), collaborated in a 3-phase study on the design, creation and usability testing of a text-based graphical MOO and a three-dimensional MUVE. The researchers collaborated on the first 2 phases—building and testing—and then split off for separate data collection in the third observing phase. Findings for each phase are presented here.
Once the environments were built and tested, 14 second-semester German students were placed as pairs into either a 3D MUVE or a text-based graphical MOO for collaboration. Pairs completed a task related to the restaurant theme in the course textbook. Discourse analysis of the session chat logs was used to categorize and count communication, task-solving and managing interaction negotiations. Word count was also analyzed and compared between the two virtual environments.
Phase 1 demonstrated that building virtual environments is time consuming, demanding and requires extensive planning between technological and content experts. Development is a collaborative and iterative process rather than a linear one and requires approximately equal hours of work from content and technology specialists.
Phase 2 usability tests identified limited numbers of easily fixable technical issues and demonstrated that minimal training is required for students to begin using the basic features of either virtual environment.
Observations in Phase 3 showed higher means in total word count, total negotiations of meaning and greater number of communication and task-solving negotiations for the 3D MUVE. The negotiation focus resulted in 3D MUVE pairs being more likely to successfully complete the task. The 3D MUVE negotiations were richer and partners spent time role-playing, which was not seen in the text-based graphical MOO.
Further study with a larger sample size using a broader definition of negotiation of meaning beyond just the lexical is recommended. More research on motivation, role-playing and sense of presence within visual learning environments is also recommended.
Bumgarner, C. The impact of virtual environment on second language production: An exploratory study. Ph.D. thesis, Pepperdine University.
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