Document Type

Theses, Ph.D


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence



Publication Details

Successfully Submitted to the School of Arts and Tourism on January, 2021, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy


In this thesis, three cycles of design based research are outlined, implementing a situated immersive virtual reality game for Irish language learning. It was undertaken in order to investigate a potential technological solution to improve the limited number of daily Irish adult speakers in Ireland, 3%. It examines the intersection between game based learning, Irish language learning and virtual reality technology and the methodological approach undertaken follows a design based research paradigm. The research focus is on motivation and anxiety through interaction with a virtual reality game. It offers several contributions to current literature including: The utilisation of the Second Language (L2) self-system system of motivation within a design based research methodological approach. The study disseminates the results of three cycles of a design based research experiment. It found an increase in vocabulary retention, reduction in anxiety towards Irish and a significant increase in attitudes towards learning Irish. It also highlights learner’s experience of a immersive situated game to learn Irish. The first case study was conducted with 7 participants from TU Dublin’s game design programme. This was a pilot study which confirmed the questionnaires and game design direction of the thesis moving forward. The results led to a redesign of the game following quantitative and qualitative feedback from participants. The second case study was conducted with 13 participants from TU Dublin’s Irish language classes. There were no statistically significant results found, however, there was a large reduction in the mean for Irish language anxiety and Irish language self confidence in participants after engaging with the virtual reality game. The results led to a redesign of the game following the quantitative and qualitative feedback from participants. In the third case study there were 10 participants from Marino Institute of Education. Statistically significant results were found with a 21% increase in vocabulary retention alongside a decrease in Irish language anxiety and an increase in attitudes towards iilearning Irish. Focus groups of the participants are explored through thematic analysis in order to corroborate the quantitative data. Participants validated the quantitative analysis and illustrated how the design of the VR game aided their motivation and vocabulary retention. The thesis concludes by providing a summary of the research questions and the results obtained and gives game design recommendations for future immersive situated games for Irish language learning.