Exploring EFL Learners’ Engagement in Virtual Reality Environments: A Case Study on King Abdul-Aziz University (KAU) Learners in KSA (Published)
Virtual reality (VR) is used for many applications, ranging from medicine to space and from entertainment to training. In this research paper, VR is applied in EFL education in order to explore the effect of virtual reality environments (VR) on the engagement of female students of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) at King Abdul-Aziz University (KAU) in Saudi Arabia. A mixed-research approach was taken to examine the correlation between three major variables (students’ engagement, students’ cognitive load, students’ behaviour in VR). The quantitative research made use of three research instruments: 1) a pre/post self-perceived engagement questionnaire, 2) the NASA TLX (Task Load Index), which was used to calculate the learners’ cognitive load, and 3) a Students’ Behaviour in VR rubric, which was used to analyse learners’ video-recorded interactions in VR. I used the qualitative interview tool to collect data from each participant after the experiment in order to analyse students’ perceptions and subjective assessment of their VR experience. The study includes (n=10) EFL female students from the Department of European Languages at King Abdul-Aziz University. I used various statistical treatments from IBM SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) to investigate any significant differences or correlations between the three major variables in the quantitative data. The findings indicated that the level of engagement among students was significantly improved when using VR, while the results did not reveal any significant correlations between students’ cognitive load and behaviour in VR that could affect their engagement.