Fostering Literacy Skills

in Virtual Reality

 Fostering Literacy Skills in Virtual Reality 

What is this project about?

In late Fall 2018, we received support from the Towbes Foundation to develop a program using virtual reality (VR) technologies that would be designed to support those students who struggle with the foundational skills of phonological awareness, decoding, comprehension, spelling, and composition. The multiple experiential dimensions afforded by VR technology gives children the opportunity to create and experience literacy practices with a deeper, more fully embodied perspective.

 

Such an immersive experience would arguably maximize the noted benefits of tactile, hands-on strategies used in traditional literacy programs like Lindamood Bell. The unique aspect of this project under development is that we include children (two 10 year-olds for the time being) as important co-researchers who weigh in on what they like, what preferences, interests, etc. they have, incorporating this information as we develop the program.

 

The image below features one of our participants who was writing about the trials of being a big sister, immersed within a location on the UCSB campus where she and her sister had an argument. 

Preliminary findings of qualitative writing and reading assessments suggest that both participating students have doubled the amount of time on task (from 10 minutes to up to 40 minutes) devoted to writing and story creation within the VR context. One of the students with dysgraphia (disability in writing) has shown marked improvement in writing with fewer disconnections, and both students have demonstrated modest improvements in their reading comprehension due to greater decoding accuracy.