The impact of immersive virtual reality on educators' awareness of the cognitive experiences of pupils with dyslexia

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Abstract

Background: In recent years, due to deliberate educational policy in various places around the world, children with dyslexia study in regular classes with non-dyslexic classmates. They do not appear handicapped, because their disabilities do not stem from physical deformities, and therefore, it is not easy to identify them in a group where the majority of the children are non-dyslexic. As a result, these children continually brave the hardships inherent to a human environment, while being largely unaware of their situation. Purpose: The aim of this study was to test the effectiveness of VR technology in enhancing the teachers knowledge and awareness of dyslexia, a phenomenon that is very difficult to explain. Not only it is a very difficult phenomenon to communicate, but also the research community still needs to suggest and accept a unified typology of the disorder. Population and Setting: Eighty teachers of various subjects participated in this study. They were selected randomly from a variety of schools in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. Each of the teachers in the experimental group (N = 40) experienced a virtual reality simulation that simulated 10 virtual worlds corresponding to the 10 types of dyslexia we found in the literature. The experience took 20 minutes to complete and was conducted in a VR laboratory in a clinical setting. The teachers, in the control group (N = 40) each separately watched a 20-minute film on the subject of dyslexia and reading disorders. All the subjects filled out questionnaires before and after the intervention. Research Design: The teachers were divided into an experimental and a control group. In the experimental group, the teachers were exposed to ten 3D virtual worlds that simulated 10 cognitive experiences of dyslexic students. The teachers in the control group viewed a film that elaborated on similar experiences. All the subjects filled out questionnaires before and after the intervention. The questionnaires tested the teachers' level of cognitive awareness of the dyslexic students' experiences when encountering the written word. In addition, the subjects in the experimental group were interviewed before and after the intervention. Conclusions: The research results clearly suggested that experiencing a variety of simulated types of dyslexia via virtual reality can bring about a greater improvement in teacher awareness of the dyslexic pupil's cognitive experiences than is achieved by viewing a film about dyslexia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-204
Number of pages24
JournalTeachers College Record
Volume113
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011

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