Date of Award

Summer 2023

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Fatih Ari

Second Advisor

Tammi D. Kolski


The purpose of this mixed methods study was to implement and evaluate the impact of a virtual reality book club on the social presence of students. This research examined participants using virtual reality headsets to study the works of William Shakespeare. This study examined two research questions: 1) How does the implementation of a virtual reality technological innovation affect students’ knowledge of Shakespearean works? 2) How does the implementation of a virtual reality technological innovation affect social presence in students? Participants interacted within virtual worlds with one another and the researcher. Data was collected using a pre-post assessment test, writing prompts, weekly multiple-choice questions, and participant interviews to measure the participant’s knowledge of Shakespearean works. Three quantitative measures were used to assess social presence within the virtual reality experience. Participant interviews and writing prompts were also used to assess social presence through a qualitative lens. Both quantitative and qualitative measures highlighted the role of social presence within virtual reality. Quantitative and qualitative data suggested that students can learn about the works of Shakespeare while also building social presence. Qualitative data highlighted the enjoyment and engagement students experienced while also promoting social connection. The majority of students interviewed stated that it was easier to make friends in virtual reality when compared with the real world. This study may serve as a model for future researchers to draw upon for using mixed methods research in studying both social and academic elements when using innovative educational technology.


© 2023, John Funchess Ott Jr.