Date of Award

12-2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Communications Media

First Advisor

Mark J. Piwinsky, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

James S. Lenze, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Jeffrey A. Ritchey, D.Ed.

Abstract

Online learning has seen an explosive growth at the K-12 level, however little research has used an experimental design approach to specifically examine the outcomes of delivery methods. This study examines what effect learning in an immersive learning environment (virtual world) has on student achievement and satisfaction with the lesson. To conduct this experiment, four groups received instruction in their seventh grade science course. This occurred with two groups having live virtual lessons (synchronous), one simulated asynchronous, and one traditional classroom lesson serving as the control. The same instructor delivered all four lessons with identical content. The results of this study showed that no significant difference in achievement was present based on the method of instructional delivery. As for the motivation of learners, there was a significant difference for satisfaction with the virtual environment having a higher level of satisfaction. No significant difference was detected between genders within groups for either satisfaction or achievement. The results of this study show that learners in the virtual environment had at least equal achievement growth and had a higher level of satisfaction while learning in a virtual classroom. Additional research is called for to investigate the long-term impact that learning in an online virtual environment has on student achievement and satisfaction.

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