In an effort to better understand how innovative technologies can be used to enhance second language acquisition, this study investigates the role that online immersive spaces, specifically, synthetic immersive environments (SIEs), can play in enhancing advanced language learners' pragmatic performance (i.e., their ability to perform requests and apologies in Spanish). SIEs are engineered spaces which integrate the many benefits of online gaming to produce explicitly, educationally-related outcomes in simulated, relevant, interactional contexts.
The results of this study address two important components of the use of SIEs for L2 pragmatic acquisition. First, utilizing a synthesis of 120 hours of in-game behavior, survey data, and one-on-one participant interviews, this study analyzed how three potentially beneficial attributes of the SIEs were used and perceived by the participants (i.e., individualized experience, varied participant roles, and "low-risk" practice space). The results demonstrate that in-game behavior can be categorized into four distinct types of individualized experiences. Furthermore, there was not a high level of experimentation with participant roles in this study; however, the data revealed an increased importance placed on experimentation upon completion of the unit. Finally, quest completion was viewed as the primary indicator of success with quest resets carrying a connotation of failure for the majority of the students.
In addition, results indicate a marked difference between actual learning outcomes (measured by pre/post DCTs) and perceived outcomes on the part of the learners. In terms of both speech acts, the DCT data revealed little change from pre- to posttest, except in the case of perspective for the apologies scenarios. The perception data exhibited an overall perceived benefit for all eight scenarios surveyed, with statistically significant improvements in the scenarios most closely emulating those that were present in the SIE. Implications for future design, implementation, and research projects are also discussed
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2008. Major: Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Linguistics. Advisors: Carol A. Klee, Andrew D. Cohen. 1 computer file (PDF); x, 240 pages, appendices A-J.
Sykes, Julie M..
A dynamic approach to social interaction: Synthetic immersive environments & Spanish pragmatics..
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