Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Curriculum & Instruction

Degree Granting Department

Secondary Education

Major Professor

Glenn G. Smith, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Steve Downey, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Robert Dedrick, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Wei Zhu, Ph.D.


anxiety, attitude, foreign, motivation, Second Life, virtual world


A mixed methods study was conducted to determine the effects of implementing a virtual world instructional component on online undergraduate students' motivation, anxiety, and attitude toward the target language. The purposive nonrandomized sample consisted of second-year Spanish language students (n = 29) enrolled in a Southeast university in the United States. Using a quasi-experimental design, two groups were randomly assigned into an experimental group (n = 13) and a control group (n = 16). The experimental group utilized the virtual world Second Life, where they were able to interact with native Spanish speakers to complete seven free tasks related to course objectives. The Second Language Acquisition Survey, developed by the researcher, was administered to the control and experimental groups prior to and after the experimental group received the treatment. Independent t-tests were used to analyze the data. The findings indicated there were no statistical differences in the three dependent variables. An analysis of final course grades also did not find any statistical differences between the two groups. One-on-one interviews demonstrated initial positive influences felt by the treatment group, including positive perceptions of the virtual world and less anxiety when approaching in-world people to interact with in the target language. Additional interview responses combined with an instructor interview revealed the length of the treatment may be too long and started to interfere with higher priority responsibilities. Future studies should continue to explore the use of virtual worlds within second language acquisition classrooms for their ability to alleviate these three defined constructs of language acquisition.