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|Title: ||The Effectiveness of a Virtual Role-play Environment as a Preparation Activity for Story Writing|
|Authors: ||Robertson, Judy|
|Supervisor(s): ||Oberlander, Jon|
|Issue Date: ||Jul-2000|
|Publisher: ||The University of Edinburgh: College of Science and Engineering: The School of Informatics|
|Abstract: ||Improvisational dramatic role-play activities are used in classrooms to
encourage children to explore the feelings of the characters in a story. Roleplay
exercises can give a story personal significance to each child, and an
insight and understanding of the characters which is reflected in stories
written afterwards. The thesis describes the development of a virtual
environment designed for similar dramatic role-play exercises.
The thesis then investigates its effectiveness as a preparation activity for
writing stories. It examines the effects the virtual role-play environment has
on the characterisation in children’s imaginative writing. It also investigates
the social interactions which children engage in and the moral decisions they
make during the role-play; and the motivational effects of the virtual roleplay
The virtual role-play environment is based on a commercial computer game.
Two children and one role-play leader interact with each other in a
perceptually realistic virtual world. Each role-player controls an avatar in
order to move around this graphical world, and improvise by sending and
receiving typed messages.
The high quality graphics, sounds and music contribute to the users’ feelings
of perceptual presence while the communication between role-players
promotes feelings of social presence. The role-players’ emotional engagement
with the other characters and the conflict within the adventure encourages
them to experience self presence.
The virtual role-play environment was evaluated in a field study with sixty
children aged between ten and twelve years. The characterisation in stories
written after using the virtual role-play environment was compared to the
characterisation in stories written under normal classroom circumstances.
The stories were compared using a new, fine-grained analysis scheme for
assessing children’s writing. The main result is that the stories written after
the virtual role-play contained more dialogue and more indications of
relationships between the characters than normal classroom stories. Analysis
of the typed communication exchanged between the role-players during the
game shows that the role-players formed relationships with the other
characters. They also made judgements about the characters’ personalities
and to a lesser extent expressed emotional involvement during the game.
They made moral decisions and could back up their decisions with reasons.
Expert evaluation supports the view that the virtual role-play environment is
particularly beneficial to children with low literacy standards. Finally, it also
benefits children with low literacy motivation and little interest in school
|Description: ||Institute for Communicating and Collaborative Systems|
|Appears in Collections:||Informatics thesis and dissertation collection|
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