Educational Technology Research and Development

, Volume 65, Issue 2, pp 455–479

The efficacy of an immersive 3D virtual versus 2D web environment in intercultural sensitivity acquisition

  • Amy Jo Coffey
  • Rasha Kamhawi
  • Paul Fishwick
  • Julie Henderson
Cultural and Regional Perspectives

DOI: 10.1007/s11423-017-9510-9

Cite this article as:
Coffey, A.J., Kamhawi, R., Fishwick, P. et al. Education Tech Research Dev (2017) 65: 455. doi:10.1007/s11423-017-9510-9


Relatively few studies have empirically tested computer-based immersive virtual environments’ efficacy in teaching or enhancing pro-social attitudes, such as intercultural sensitivity. This channel study experiment was conducted (N = 159) to compare what effects, if any, an immersive 3D virtual environment would have upon subjects’ intercultural sensitivity, compared to a 2D web environment. Significant gains in intercultural sensitivity were found, with subjects exposed to the Second Life-based immersive virtual environment scoring higher than web-based subjects, both toward other cultures in general and toward Chinese culture in particular. An interaction effect for gender and channel was found, with males experiencing greater intercultural sensitivity outcomes than in a web environment. These empirical findings add to our theoretical understanding of channel effects and intercultural sensitivity. The results can guide cultural instructors or trainers toward the best platforms for content delivery to learners. These findings are worthy of future investigation to better understand their application in educational endeavors as well as in other fields.


3D Immersive virtual environment Web Intercultural sensitivity Gender 

Funding information

Funder NameGrant NumberFunding Note
U.S. Army (US)
  • 00066834

Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amy Jo Coffey
    • 1
  • Rasha Kamhawi
    • 2
  • Paul Fishwick
    • 3
  • Julie Henderson
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Telecommunication, College of Journalism and CommunicationsUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Communication and Media SciencesAin Shams UniversityCairoEgypt
  3. 3.The University of Texas at DallasRichardsonUSA
  4. 4.P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School, College of EducationUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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