Examining EFL learners’ vocabulary learning engagement and outcomes in a seamless learning environment mediated by an augmented reality app-VocabGO in mainland China

Jianfeng ZHOU

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Theses


Despite that Augmented Reality (AR) has been integrated into English as a Foreign Language (EFL) instruction, few studies have been conducted, focusing on AR-supported vocabulary learning both inside and outside the classroom at a primary level. Against this background, this study aimed to examine the impact of an AR app – VocabGo on primary students’ vocabulary learning in a seamless learning environment, specifically in the context of a private school in Shenzhen, China. This empirical study adopted mixed research methods and lasted for 26 weeks. Seventy-two Grade 4 students from a private school in Shenzhen, China, were randomly divided into three groups with 24 participants for each group. Group 1 adopted VocabGo both in-class and out-of-class, Group 2 adopted VocabGo in-class only, and Group 3 adopted VocabGo out-of-class only. The framework of AR-supported vocabulary acquisition in a seamless learning environment was employed in this study. The research questions probed into the impact of VocabGo on students' engagement and vocabulary learning outcomes in various contexts: (1) in-class, (2) out-of-class, and (3) a combination of both. Data collection involved student pre- and post-engagement questionnaires, student focus group interviews, pre- and post-vocabulary tests and log data. The research findings show that students in Group 1 outperformed significantly those in Group 2 and Group 3 in terms of engagement and learning outcomes, lending support to the potency of a seamless learning environment that integrates formal and informal learning experiences. Additionally, the research findings show that a positive correlation was established between engagement levels and learning outcomes, providing insights into the relationship between these two dimensions. The study contributes to the literature in three aspects. First, theoretically, the study substantiates the effectiveness of the framework of AR-supported vocabulary learning in a seamless learning environment, advancing our understanding of EFL vocabulary acquisition and the potential of seamless learning environments. It also deepened our understanding of the Dual Coding Theory, underscoring the effectiveness of integrating verbal and non-verbal information, using real-world objects, and providing contextualized learning experiences. Secondly, practically, the research underscores the potential of AR technology like VocabGo as a pedagogical tool, offering important considerations for instructional design and practice in EFL education. It highlights the importance of providing technical support and training for teachers and students, aligning AR technology use with the curriculum and learning objectives, and factoring in the logistical and infrastructural requirements for AR implementation. Finally, the study serves as a basis for further research on AR in EFL instruction, suggesting avenues for investigating the utility of other mobile-assisted language learning applications, exploring different learner populations and contexts, and examining the long-term impact of AR on vocabulary learning engagement and outcomes, particularly within the Mainland China context. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Education
Awarding Institution
  • The Education University of Hong Kong
  • SONG, Yanjie 宋燕捷, Supervisor
  • LAI, Yiu Chi 黎耀志, Supervisor
  • MA, Qing 馬清, Supervisor
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • AR
  • VocabGo
  • EFL vocabulary learning
  • Engagement
  • Theses and Dissertations
  • Thesis (Ed.D.)--The Education University of Hong Kong, 2023.


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