The Science Behind VR in Learning

The Science Behind VR in Learning

Virtual Reality is revolutionizing education and training, providing immersive experiences that captivate learners like never before. Numerous researchers praise its potential for enhancing retention of information and augmenting comprehension by simulating real-world scenarios and fostering experiential learning, while enabling learners to practice in safe, repeatable, and controlled  environments. Join us as we delve into the research supporting the integration of VR into educational and training programs.

Impactful Learning

A meta‐analysis and systematic review of the effect of virtual reality technology on users' learning outcomes

This study systematically and meta-analytically examined the effect of VR technologies on educational outcomes. The researchers reviewed 43 empirical VR studies in education, ranging from 1993 to 2020, in high-impact journals of educational technology. It is found that VR technologies can positively influence learning outcomes in education, improve learning outcomes across the world except Europe, and facilitate learning outcomes at different educational levels except the primary school level

Yu, Z., & Xu, W. (2022). A meta‐analysis and systematic review of the effect of virtual reality technology on users' learning outcomes. Computer applications in engineering education30(5), 1470-1484.

Effects of virtual presence and learning outcome using low-end virtual reality systems

An evaluation with 42 participants was conducted. We measured learning outcome and virtual presence under three different configurations, namely: a desktop computer, a low-end VR system, and a high-end VR system. Results revealed a lower learning outcome in the less immersive configuration (i.e. desktop) and a similar learning outcome in both low-end and high-end VR systems. Even though low-end VR systems are less immersive and produce a lower level of virtual presence than high-end VR systems, the results support the use of low-end VR systems for educative applications.

Selzer, M. N., Gazcon, N. F., & Larrea, M. L. (2019). Effects of virtual presence and learning outcome using low-end virtual reality systems. Displays59, 9-15.

Virtual reality as pedagogical tool to enhance experiential learning: a systematic literature review

Virtual reality is used as a pedagogical tool for various subject areas for encouraging involvement. It is helpful in medical, engineering, language, and social learning, as it provides a chance to get first-hand experience of the environment. Also, it helps learners to engage in a presented virtual environment and experience the sense of presence in it and enhances students’ experiential learning. Therefore, this review found virtual reality as an essential pedagogical tool for strengthening students’ experiential learning.

Asad, M. M., Naz, A., Churi, P., & Tahanzadeh, M. M. (2021). Virtual reality as pedagogical tool to enhance experiential learning: a systematic literature review. Education Research International2021, 1-17.

BIM-enabled virtual reality (VR)-based pedagogical framework in architectural design studios

Such technology-enhanced teaching methods have proven to enhance students’ engagement, active participation, collective knowledge construction and increased creativity and motivation.

Hajirasouli, A., Banihashemi, S., Sanders, P., & Rahimian, F. (2023). BIM-enabled virtual reality (VR)-based pedagogical framework in architectural design studios. Smart and Sustainable Built Environment.

 

Virtual and stereoscopic anatomy: when virtual reality meets medical education
Pedagogy: Instructivism to socio-constructivism through virtual reality

This simulated environment enhanced students’ understanding by providing a degree of reality unattainable in a traditional two-dimensional interface, creating a sensory-rich interactive learning environment.

Onyesolu, M. O., Nwasor, V. C., Ositanwosu, O. E., & Iwegbuna, O. N. (2013). Pedagogy: Instructivism to socio-constructivism through virtual reality. International Journal of Advanced Computer Science and Applications4(9).

Virtual reality and situated experiential education: A conceptualization and exploratory trial

This type of experience is capable of providing participants with a holistic experience of real world environments that are otherwise too expensive, impractical or unethical for large groups of people to visit in person.

Schott, C., & Marshall, S. (2018). Virtual reality and situated experiential education: A conceptualization and exploratory trial. Journal of computer assisted learning34(6), 843-852.

A literature review on immersive virtual reality in education: state of the art and perspectives

Immersive VR can offer great advantages for learning: it allows a direct feeling of objects and events that are physically out of our reach, it supports training in a safe environment avoiding potential real dangers and, thanks to the game approach, it increases the learner’s involvement and motivation while widening the range of learning styles supported. Results show how most papers report experiments in high education or adult training.

Freina, L., & Ott, M. (2015, April). A literature review on immersive virtual reality in education: state of the art and perspectives. In The international scientific conference elearning and software for education (Vol. 1, No. 133, pp. 10-1007).

Exploring the learning outcomes with various technologies-proposing design principles for virtual reality learning environments

The study compares three virtual learning environments: VR, 3D videos and 2D videos. The results suggest that VR has its advantages on the apply -level, or higher, as it outperforms the other two technologies at this level.

Holopainen, J., Lähtevänoja, A., Mattila, O., Södervik, I., Pöyry, E., & Parvinen, P. (2020). Exploring the learning outcomes with various technologies-proposing design principles for virtual reality learning environments. Proceedings of the 53rd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences.

 

Exploring the learning outcomes with various technologies-proposing design principles for virtual reality learning environments

The study compares three virtual learning environments: VR, 3D videos and 2D videos. The results suggest that VR has its advantages on the apply -level, or higher, as it outperforms the other two technologies at this level.

Holopainen, J., Lähtevänoja, A., Mattila, O., Södervik, I., Pöyry, E., & Parvinen, P. (2020). Exploring the learning outcomes with various technologies-proposing design principles for virtual reality learning environments. Proceedings of the 53rd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences.

Effects of virtual reality on learning outcomes in K-6 education: A meta-analysis

Virtual reality has a medium-large positive effect on students' learning gains. Immersive virtual reality promotes larger gains than semi and non-immersive systemsShort interventions (<2 h) were associated with larger effects on learning.

Villena-Taranilla, R., Tirado-Olivares, S., Cózar-Gutiérrez, R., & González-Calero, J. A. (2022). Effects of virtual reality on learning outcomes in K-6 education: A meta-analysis. Educational Research Review35, 100434.

VR as an Empathy Machine

“Empathy machine”: how virtual reality affects human rights attitudes

Results indicate that immersive journalism can elicit a positive attitudinal change in users, unlike an Article, with mobile VR having a more prominent effect than a 2D screen. Furthermore, this change is more strongly affected by users' higher Involvement in the content.

Bujić, M., Salminen, M., Macey, J., & Hamari, J. (2020). “Empathy machine”: how virtual reality affects human rights attitudes. Internet Research, 30(5), 1407-1425.

What makes immersive virtual reality the ultimate empathy machine? Discerning the underlying mechanisms of change

Immersive Virtual Reality (IVR) Experiences are related to increase in empathyIllusion of Virtual Body Ownership and Agency best predict empathy change. User experience is more predictive of empathy change than media content.

Barbot, B., & Kaufman, J. C. (2020). What makes immersive virtual reality the ultimate empathy machine? Discerning the underlying mechanisms of change. Computers in Human Behavior111, 106431.

Rage against the empathy machine revisited: The ethics of empathy-related affordances of virtual reality

Drawing on psychophysiological evidence, it argues that the ethical significance of VR lies in the unique ways in which it manipulates the user’s body scheme via multisensory stimulation. These manipulations result in unprecedented empathy-related perceptual and conceptual transformations whose ethical implications require new ethical framing.

Raz, G. (2022). Rage against the empathy machine revisited: The ethics of empathy-related affordances of virtual reality. Convergence28(5), 1457-1475.

VR Improving Perspective Taking

Building long-term empathy: A large-scale comparison of traditional and virtual reality perspective-taking

An experiment was conducted in order to compare the short and long-term effects of a traditional perspective-taking task and a VR perspective-taking task. The results show that over the course of eight weeks participants in both conditions reported feeling empathetic and connected to the homeless at similar rates, however, participants who became homeless in VR had more positive, longer-lasting attitudes toward the homeless and signed a petition supporting the homeless at a significantly higher rate than participants who performed a traditional perspective-taking task.

Herrera, F., Bailenson, J., Weisz, E., Ogle, E., & Zaki, J. (2018). Building long-term empathy: A large-scale comparison of traditional and virtual reality perspective-taking. PloS one13(10), e0204494.

Virtual reality perspective-taking increases cognitive empathy for specific others

In a pre-registered laboratory experiment (N = 180), participants interacted with an ostensible partner (a student from the same university as them) on a series of real-stakes economic games afterץ The VRPT experience successfully increased participants’ subsequent propensity to take the perspective of their partner (a facet of empathy), but only if the partner was the same person whose perspective participants assumed in the virtual reality simulation. 

Van Loon, A., Bailenson, J., Zaki, J., Bostick, J., & Willer, R. (2018). Virtual reality perspective-taking increases cognitive empathy for specific others. PloS one13(8), e0202442.

Perspective-taking in virtual reality and reduction of biases against minorities

This study examines the effect of perspective-taking via embodiment in virtual reality (VR) in improving biases against minorities. In the study, participants embodied an ethnic minority avatar and experienced workplace microaggression from a first-person perspective in VR. Results showed that ingroup bias improved comparably across both conditions and that this effect was driven by more negative perceptions of the majority instead of more positive perceptions of minorities. The study showed that in VR, the embodiment of an ethnic minority is somewhat effective in improving perceptions towards minority groups

Chen, V. H. H., Chan, S. H. M., & Tan, Y. C. (2021). Perspective-taking in virtual reality and reduction of biases against minorities. Multimodal Technologies and Interaction5(8), 42.

Looking back from the future: Perspective taking in virtual reality increases future self-continuity

An experiment tested a novel perspective-taking exercise aimed at increasing the connection participants felt toward their future self, i.e., future self-continuity. Participants role-played as their successful future self and answered questions about what it feels like to become their future and the path to get there. The exercise was also conducted in a virtual reality environment and in vivo to investigate the possible added value of the virtual environment with respect to improved focus, perspective-taking, and effectiveness for participants with less imagination. Results show that the perspective taking exercise in virtual reality substantially increased all four domains of future self-continuity, i.e., connectedness, similarity, vividness, and liking, while the in vivo equivalent increased only liking and vividness. These findings show that the perspective taking exercise in a VR environment can reliably increase the future self-continuity domains.

Ganschow, B., Cornet, L., Zebel, S., & Van Gelder, J. L. (2021). Looking back from the future: Perspective taking in virtual reality increases future self-continuity. Frontiers in psychology12, 664687.

 

Virtual experiences for social perspective-taking

This paper proposes virtual social perspective-taking (VSP). In VSP, users are immersed in an experience of another person to aid in understanding the person’s perspective. A pilot study (n = 16) using this scenario indicates VSP elicits reflection on the perspectives of others and changes behavior in future, similar social interactions. By encouraging reflection and change, VSP advances the state-of-the-art in training social interactions with virtual experiences.

Raij, A., Kotranza, A., Lind, D. S., & Lok, B. (2009, March). Virtual experiences for social perspective-taking. In 2009 IEEE Virtual Reality Conference (pp. 99-102). IEEE.

Social inattentional blindness to idea stealing in meeting

Using a virtual reality social experiment, participants experienced being at the table during a decision-making meeting and identified the best solutions generated. During the meeting, one meeting participant repeated another participant’s idea, presenting it as his own. Although this idea stealing was clearly visible and audible, only 30% of participants correctly identified who shared the idea first. Subsequent analyses suggest that the social environment affected this novel form of inattentional blindness. This paper extends the inattentional blindness phenomenon to a realistic professional interaction and demonstrates how features of the social environment can reduce social inattention.

Masters-Waage, T. C., Kinias, Z., Argueta-Rivera, J., Stewart, D., Ivany, R., King, E., & Hebl, M. (2024). Social inattentional blindness to idea stealing in meetings. Scientific Reports14.