This study aims to find whether or not there are any differences between the behavioural, affective, cognitive engagement and achievement of student groups with and without instructor avatar guidance in winter sports learning environment developed in Second Life 3D virtual platform. It also analyses the correlations between the sub-factors of engagement and achievement according to guided and unguided groups. This study was conducted on basis of quasi-experimental and relational research method. The sample was determined by purposeful sampling method and composed of 104 secondary school students (54 guided, 50 unguided). The data collected through student engagement questionnaire and achievement test were analysed to descriptive and predictive statistics. According to the results, no significant differences were found between the groups in terms of behavioural, affective, cognitive student engagement and achievement. It was found that there were correlations between cognitive engagement and achievement in the guided group but that there were no significant correlations between behavioural engagement and achievement. In unguided group there were no significant correlations between behavioural, affective and cognitive engagement and achievement. This might have stemmed from the fact that the students had experienced learning in a different environment offered by 3D virtual platform-a new technology-for the first time.
Technological advances influence the domain of education as it does all other domains, and researchers, educators and educational policy-makers try several ways to integrate technologies supporting learning and synchronic/non-synchronic technologies into educational environments (Coates, 2007). In three dimensional (3D) virtual platforms, which is one of such technologies, users can simulate the real world with 3D objects. They can display realistic behaviours through 3D avatar, have realistic experiences by interacting with the platform and also have multi-channel communication with other avatars (Kapp, & O’Driscoll, 2010). Those platforms have the potential to create effective learning environments, to increase students’ engagement and to facilitate learning through more visual and realistic experiences with the properties they have (Bulu, 2012; Dalgarno, & Lee, 2010; Dickey, 2005). They also help to eliminate the problems encountered in joint studies due to costs, time and physical remoteness/geographical restrictions (Jarmon, Traphagan, Mayrath, & Trivedi, 2009). For all these reasons, in recent years the use of 3D virtual platforms for several purposes has become widespread in educational environments as an approach (Reisoğlu, Topu, Yılmaz, Yılmaz & Göktaş, 2017). 3D virtual platforms can pose certain problems due to difficulties in controlling the environments (Mount, Chambers, Weaver, & Priestnall, 2009) besides providing environments for self-learning (Ibáñez et al., 2011). Guidance applied in those environments with appropriate and supportive leading can help to overcome such difficulties (Chittaro, Ieronutti, & Ranon, 2004). Thus, it is reported in the literature that guidance helps to increase students’ engagement in a learning activity (Bower, Lee, & Dalgarno, 2017) and that engagement is important in supporting learning by doing and experiencing (Minocha, & Reeves, 2010).