Virtual Reality Training in Aid of Communication Apprehension in Classroom Environments
Keywords:Communication Apprehension, Virtual Reality Training, Public Speaking
The major goal of this study was to observe the effectiveness of Virtual Reality Training (VRT) in assisting students who suffer from Communication Apprehension (CA). CA seems to be prevalent throughout a large portion of the human population. Apparently, this study has only a few precedents and can be considered a novel step in treatment of CA. Thirty undergraduate volunteer students enrolled at a university in Georgia participated in this study. A virtual auditorium scene for CA training was created. Virtual Auditorium was a simulation of a 48 foot wide, 100 foot long, and 55 foot high auditorium with three sections of chairs that accommodated over 100 spectators. The virtual auditorium program was designed to allow the audience to enter the auditorium one at a time, then by five at a time until the whole auditorium was filled. Also, several audio clips were used to react to and create a desired effect upon the participant. The audio clips included making comments, encouraging the participant to speak louder, ignoring the participant, laughing, holding conversations with others, and clapping hands at the beginning or end of the entire session. An amplifier was used in conjunction with the virtual reality software in order for the participant to hear the echo of their own voice. A Subjective Units of Disturbance (SUD) scale was used for all five sessions to measure the participantâ??s anxiety level. SUD scale ranged from 0 (no anxiety) to 10 (panic-level anxiety). Sessions lasted approximately 40 to 45 minutes. After analyzing the data, the result of this research showed VRT to be effective at reducing CA anxiety. While there was fluctuation in the standard deviation of data, meaning participants responded the VRT at different rates, the average level of anxiety reported during the post-test was significantly less than that of the pre-test. The participants reported experiencing the same symptoms during VRT sessions just as they would experience in a real situation. The symptoms were dry mouth, nervousness, dizzy eyes, sweating, shaking, and increased heart rate. The results indicated that VRT may be an effective method in reducing CA anxiety in participants. In general, VRT was shown to decrease CA anxiety symptoms and increase self-confidence in participants, and also allowed them to get involved in discussions and presentations more frequently.
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