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Reducing Study Abroad Anxiety Through Smartphone Virtual Reality



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Students (especially those from largely ethnically homogenous
and monolingual countries such as Japan) preparing to study
abroad may experience considerable anxiety about the prospect
of an unknown foreign environment. The negative consequences
of this anxiety may take the form of overcompensation
in preparation and study, avoidance of preparation and study,
or even physical effects, such as illness. The presenters propose
that recently developed smartphone virtual reality, such
as Google Cardboard, is a practical and affordable technology
that could help train students in problem-focused coping strategies
aimed at reducing anxiety. This technology allows anyone
with a smartphone and a compatible headset, through the use of
freely available applications, to visit locations around the globe
and inhabit them immersively with the ability to look freely in
all directions. In this presentation, we will discuss a pilot study
examining anxiety-reducing VR-based activities as well as other
CALL activities, that allowed students to virtually visit their
overseas campuses, city downtown districts, and homestay
neighbourhoods. In particular, the presenters will talk about
the rationale for the study, the activities and materials used in
the study, and the data collection methods and results. Also,
how these preparatory activities might reduce student anxiety
prior to departure will also be explored. Finally, improvements
for a larger scale study will be proposed. Attendees will be able
to experience the VR activities for themselves. This presentation
may be of particular interest to teachers or administrators
who wish to use more active learning-based activities in preparing
students to study abroad.

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Reducing Study Abroad Anxiety Through Smartphone Virtual Reality

  1. 1. Reducing Study Abroad Anxiety Through Smartphone Virtual Reality Chris Hastings Josh Brunotte Christopher.robert.hastings@gmail.com JoshBrunotte@gmail.com
  2. 2. Outline 1. Study Abroad Anxiety 2. Our Study a. Goals b. Methods c. Program Overview 3. Literature 4. Program Activities 5. Results
  3. 3. Study Abroad Anxiety - News from the Front
  4. 4. Study Abroad Anxiety - Intervention is Necessary “...without intervention to reduce anxiety, the success of study abroad programs will be unlikely to be optimized.” (Riley & Shackleford, 2009, p.74) But what kind of intervention is optimal?
  5. 5. Study Abroad Anxiety - Two Examples Two Examples of Intervention - Explicit Teaching of English Language & Learning Strategies The Use of CALL as a means of reducing anxiety of students studying abroad - White, 2014 - CALL Tool English Central focussing on authentic input and practice Addressing Pre-program Anxiety for Japanese Students Studying Abroad - Riley & Shackleford, 2009 - Language Learning Strategies (LLS), for example, students listened to a lecture about New Zealand while taking notes.
  6. 6. Study Abroad Anxiety - Our Approach Use Immersive Virtual Reality Google Cardboard Streetview - High Fun & Novelty Factor Visit & Explore Actual Study Abroad Locations - Authentic Supplement VR with non-VR resources - Google Maps & Streetview Use VR sensory input as a ‘text’ to prime speaking activities - Opinion Gap Include Navigation Task - Information Gap Not explicitly teaching English, but all training and activities in English - CBI
  7. 7. http://labs.sogeti.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Augmented_Reality_Marketing_San_Diego.jpg http://geoawesomeness.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Google-Cardboard-Geoawesomeness.jpg
  8. 8. Goals 1. Reduce Participants general anxiety towards their new environments 1. Reduce Participants general anxiety towards using English to navigate their new environments 1. Have participants independently use CALL methods practiced in-session as part of their pre-departure preparations and also while overseas
  9. 9. Methodology Participants 32 English Literature Majors at Aichi Shukutoku University 1st through 4th-year Ss Time Scale Two 8-Week sessions over the Spring and Fall semesters of 2016 20 to 30 minute encounters during lunchtime once weekly Data collection Pre-treatment & Post-treatment electronic surveys Numerical and written responses
  10. 10. VR & Theories of Language Learning https://vrroom.buzz/sites/default/files/styles/article_top_banner/public/1-xtfabokvm8rul-tottcovw.png?itok=7EwNK0PD&c=2df38dc0c022c0f5a7dde0fb09e0c14b
  11. 11. Experiential learning - Learning by doing: “The most unique and possibly also the most powerful characteristic of 3D virtual environments for learning is that they afford a first-person form of immersive or semi-immersive experiential learning.” (Chee, 2001, p.46 ) Constructivist learning - Knowledge is constructed through an individual's interaction with the environment “Virtually reality provides a controlled environment in which learners can navigate, and manipulate the virtual objects found within, and more important, the effects of such interaction can be observed in real time.” (Chen, 2009, p.73) “The psychological processes that become active in immersive VR are very similar to the psychological processes that operate when people construct knowledge through interaction with objects and events in the real world.” (Winn, 1993)
  12. 12. Task-based Language Teaching - A communicative approach to language teaching that views language as a means to an end to complete a task. In TBLT there are three main categories of task, information-gap, reasoning-gap, and opinion gap (Prabhu, 1987). Often tasks are situated within a pre-task, task and post-task framework. Post- task work is analogous with project-based learning. Virtual Reality and TBLT ● TBLT is a first-person approach to language learning ● Information Gap - Navigation Task e.g. A is 3D Environment and B is 2D Map ● Reasoning Gap - Keep Talking & Nobody Explodes - Escape Room Photosphere ● Opinion Gap - Photosphere as ‘text’ or ‘situation’
  13. 13. Anxiety and Anxiety Reduction http://images.agoramedia.com/everydayhealth/gcms/Coping-With-Anxiety-and-Depression-722x406.jpg?width=1440
  14. 14. Anxiety and Anxiety Reduction ”Anxiety is a psychological, physiological, and behavioral response to anticipation of an aversive event” (Kalisch, et al., 2005) Physical/Mental responses often indistinguishable from “stress” Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (Lovibond, 1995)
  15. 15. Anxiety and Anxiety Reduction Cognitive Behavioral Therapy “thought distortions” the root of anxiety/depression anxious thoughts “create a powerful illusion of truth” (Burns, 1999, p. 48) “I’m bad at English.” “I will definitely get lost overseas.” treat thoughts, not feelings - find logical fallacies in thinking through writing and other techniques
  16. 16. Anxiety and Anxiety Reduction Cognitive Behavioral Therapy ”The ability to volitionally regulate emotions helps to adapt behavior to changing environmental demands and can alleviate subjective distress.” (Kalisch, et al., 2005, p. 874) Evidence for CBT success greater than psychopharmacological and other therapies (70% better), and no treatment (98% better) (Dobson, 1989)
  17. 17. Anxiety and Anxiety Reduction Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Ergene (2016) meta-analysis of 56 test anxiety reduction programs successful outcomes for 74% of Ss receiving CBT-based treatments
  18. 18. Travel Anxiety and Study Abroad ”uncertainty avoidance” level in a society affects how much risk individuals allow in their lives (Reisinger & Mavondo, 2005) cultures that value certainty tend to be risk averse “When uncertainty is controlled, sojourners are more adaptive.” (p. 215)
  19. 19. Study Abroad Pre-departure Program Overview Week 1 - Orientation & Pre-treatment Survey Week 2 - Introduction to Google Cardboard Week 3 - Your New Campus pt. 1 - undirected practice Week 4 - Your New Campus pt. 2 - directed practice Week 5 - Places to Visit Week 6 - Homestay House and Neighbourhood Week 7 - Communicative Navigation Task Week 8 - Post-treatment Survey
  20. 20. Google Cardboard - Orientation Instruct Students to download necessary apps Provide step-by-step documentation Explanation and demonstration only Cast iPhone screen to projector to demonstrate https://vr.google.com/cardboard/images/hero-cardboard-download-mobile.jpg
  21. 21. Campus Walk 1st Session Undirected Practice - to familiarize students with technology and troubleshoot issues 2nd Session Directed Practice - University Campus photospheres used as ‘text’ for students to react to for opinion gap speaking activity http://www.mindingthecampus.com/originals/campus.jpg
  22. 22. Finding Local Points of Interest Help Ss identify beforehand teacher suggestions Train to use once abroad Use VR to identify appearance and surroundings
  23. 23. Homestay Neighborhood Navigation Used records of previous homestay addresses Information gap task Navigate from home to campus, places of interest Practical training using real environments
  24. 24. Written feedback examples I wanted to use Wi-Fi. I thought I am glad to know about Sheffield's university and town in advance. It was useful to imagine a life in the future. I feel like I'm there I could see what the university looked like and experience the scenery around it, reducing my anxiety a little. When I put on the Google Cardboard I felt a bit dizzy and travel sick. It seemed like it would be difficult for me to wear it for a long time.
  25. 25. Conclusions Evidence for effectiveness moderate reduction in overall/travel-related anxiety 97% of Ss found Google Cardboard some degree of “useful” Ss’ own words comments from returnees Improvement in treatment design/instruction methods from Spring to Fall semesters
  26. 26. Limitations Sample Size Survey Tool Institution Lacked WiFi Google Cardboard V.1 InputFuture Directions Use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy anxiety-reduction techniques (e.g. writing exercises) during sessions Exploring cultural connections between our Ss and risk-avoidance, travel anxiety Use Google Cardboard V.2 Independent Wifi Hotspot
  27. 27. References 1. Burns, D. (1999). Feeling good: The new mood therapy. New York, NY: Harper Collins. 2. Chee, Y. M. (2001). Virtual Reality in Education : Rooting Learning in Experience. Invited talk. In Proceedings of the International Symposium on Virtual Education, Busan, South Korea. 3. Chen, C. J. (2009). Theoretical basis for using virtual reality in education. Themes in Science and Technology Education, 2(1-2), 71-90. 4. Dobson, K.S. (1989). A meta-analysis of the efficacy of cognitive therapy for depression. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 57(3), 414-419. 5. Goldsein, S., Kim, R., (2006). Predictors of US college students’ participation in study abroad programs: A longitudinal study. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 30(4), 507–521. 6. Kalisch, R., Wiech, K., Critchley, H.D., Seymour, B., O’Doherty, J., Oakley, D., Allen, P., and Dolan, R. (2005). Anxiety Reduction through Detachment: Subjective, Physiological, and Neural Effects. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 17(6), 874-883. 7. Lovibond, P.F., and Lovibond, S.H. (1995). The structure of negative emotional states: Comparison of the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS) with the Beck Depression and Anxiety Inventories. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 33(3), 335–343. 8. Prabhu, N. S. (1987). Second Language Pedagogy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 9. Reisinger, Y., Mavondo, F. (2005). Travel Anxiety and Intentions to Travel Internationally: Implications of Travel Risk Perception. Journal of Travel Research, 43(3), 212-225. 10. Riley, L.D., and Shackleford, N. (2009). Addressing Pre-program Anxiety for Japanese Students Studying Abroad. The Journal of Liberal Arts and Sciences (University of Toyama. Sugitani Campus.) 37, 67-78. 11. White, J. (2014). The use of CALL as a means of reducing anxiety of students studying abroad. Procedia Technology, 18, 113- 119. 12. Winn, W. (1993). A conceptual basis for educational applications of virtual reality. HITL Laboratory. http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:5YH7iHRZtO8J:www.hitl.washington.edu/research/learning_center/ winn/winn-paper.html~+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=jp
  28. 28. Thank you for listening! Chris Hastings Josh Brunotte Christopher.robert.hastings@gmail.com JoshBrunotte@gmail.com https://sites.google.com/view/EFL-VR visit for useful documents and upcoming presentation information