Students who receive additional educational supports in afterschool programs were the focus of the investigation. This study was conducted to measure what effects a TeachLivE avatar, a mixed-reality virtual environment, used in combination with a video game, had on the activation of prior knowledge in science for students in rural middle school. The delivery of the biology science lessons on cell structures and processes were delivered using the video game, Cell Command. The TeachLivE adult avatar was customized as a biologist who spoke to students in the treatment group about science concepts prior to playing the science video game. Unexpected attrition rates and low numbers of participants in the targeted area of research providing consent affected the original research design to conduct the research study. Therefore, a pivot was made from the original research design. The initial target population was students with a learning disability who were culturally and linguistically diverse from low socioeconomic backgrounds in rural communities. By the end of the study, only one student with a learning disability consented and completed the study, with attrition rates in the original school approaching 90% due to various factors, which are discussed. Descriptive statistics were used to measure the effects between students in the control group who only played the Cell Command video game, compared to students in the treatment condition who played the Cell Command science video game, and had four, five minute conversations with a TeachLivE avatar. The analysis indicated varied differences between the treatment and control conditions. The analysis of a STEM-CIS survey, that measures career interests, sum means were included in the descriptive analysis along with the unique challenges presented in conducting research in a rural Title I school.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Education and Human Performance
Education; Exceptional Education
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Gallegos, Benjamin, "The Role of Virtual Avatars in Supporting Middle School Students from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Backgrounds on Science in After School Programs" (2016). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 5077.