Research committee recognized for work in first of its kind virtual reality experience

The Center for Languages, Literatures and Cultures (CLLC) would like to congratulate a research committee that was selected as a Henderson Plenary Finalist at the International Association of Language Learning Technology Conference (IALLT) in New Orleans on June 15, 2023. The committee includes Prof. Janice Aski, Director of the CLLC; Dr. Rebecca Bias, CLLC Assistant Director; Dr. Kevin Richards, Assistant Teaching Professor in Germanic Languages and Literatures and Samanta Buffa, a PhD student in French and Italian, whose ongoing dissertation topic includes virtual reality applications for Italian language instruction.

The committee conducted virtual reality experiences and grammar exercises with intermediate-level Italian students during the spring 2023 session. The goal of this project targeted the perceived learning outcomes of 23 students of Italian at the ACTFL Intermediate Level.

Students participated in a 360-degree virtual walking tour of Bologna, Italy using individual Quest 2 virtual reality (VR) headsets during the study. Kevin and Samanta also created a virtual apartment using available software and VR Chat, targeting salient vocabulary and grammar from the textbook to help students arrange the furniture in their virtual Bologna apartment for their study abroad trip. In room one, students received specific instructions in Italian that included matching vocabulary to the furniture objects (grab, drag and drop). In room two, the students arranged the furniture with Italian cues regarding where to place them. After completing these steps correctly, room three welcomed two students (roommates) to set up their rooms for authentic interpersonal and communicative interaction.

"Being able to actually move things to the correct spot helped me learn locational adverbs. Then, saying it to classmates and hearing it from them helped," said one student. Another added, "It definitely improved my learning, especially having to physically place the objects correctly."

The committee hopes to do further studies targeting quantitative data in the near future. This is one of the first virtual reality applications for Italian language and culture instruction.

More info: Rebecca Bias