English as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D) students generally struggle to learn mainstream school subjects (Humanities and Social Sciences, Science, and Art) due to the lack of adequate content-specific vocabulary support. Their mainstream teachers attribute this to students’ limited vocabulary apart from their low English proficiency. To address this pedagogical concern, this study explored the perceptions of fourteen Year 7 and 8 Middle Eastern students during their engagement with virtual reality (VR) games to learn content-specific vocabulary using Google Cardboard headsets. Qualitative data was collected through multiple data sources such as a background survey (open-ended survey questions), semi-structured focus group interviews, exit slips, observation notes, and a researcher’s journal. A thematic analysis approach was employed to interpret learner experiences and provide in-depth descriptions, supported by triangulated data that tapped into the introspective aspects of learning. A software program, Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Software (CAQDAS) was used for data organisation and analysis. Two main categories emerged as a result of the thematic analysis process: 1) EAL/D learners’ perceptions and attitudes towards headset-enabled 3D educational VR games, and 2) the effects of those games on vocabulary acquisition and retention. Despite technical issues encountered and the lack of adequate educational features in some games, findings indicated that the VR games provided a fun element that not only enhanced students’ engagement but also reinvigorated content and vocabulary learning. Limitations and constraints with incorporating HMD VR games in mainstream classrooms should also be taken into consideration as identified in this study. Whilst EAL/D learners in this study favoured content information presented alongside visualised target words in VR games, future research could consider the educational factors, such as detailed written or verbal explanation of the subject content presented in the immersive VR games. This may strengthen the efficacy of using headset-configured 3D environments in conventional classrooms.
The acquisition of content-specific vocabulary poses a significant challenge for English as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D) students. In light of this concern, this study examines the perceptions of fourteen Year 7 and 8 students of Middle Eastern origin engaging with virtual reality (VR) games, delivered via Google Cardboard headsets, as a means to improving their content-specific vocabulary. The study employed a qualitative approach to collecting data from multiple sources, such as a background survey, semi-structured focus group interviews, exit slips, observation notes, and a researcher's journal. Thematic analysis was adopted to interpret the triangulated data, resulting in two main categories: 1) EAL learners' perceptions and attitudes towards headset-enabled 3D educational VR games, and 2) the effects of these games on vocabulary acquisition and retention. The findings indicate that the use of VR games provided an engaging and enjoyable learning experience, leading to improved content and vocabulary learning.
Muleyke Sahinler Albayrak, Edith Cowan University, Australia
Julian Chen, Curtin University, Australia
John Williams, Curtin University, Australia
About the Presenter(s)
Dr Muleyke Sahinler Albayrak is a University Postdoctoral Fellow or Instructor at Edith Cowan University in Australia
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