Exploring virtual and augmented reality with experimental psychology

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We are a research group that investigates immersive technologies, such as virtual and augmented reality in educational settings. We aim to establish results, that can ultimately change how people learn.

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Read what we have recently published.

A study of how immersion and interactivity drive VR learning

Gustav B. Petersen, Giorgos Petkakis and Guido Makransky

January 4, 2022
Computers & Education

Even though learning refers to both a process and a product, the former tends to be overlooked in educational virtual reality (VR) research. This study examines the process of learning with VR technology using the Cognitive Affective Model of Immersive Learning (CAMIL) as its framework. The CAMIL theorizes that two technological features of VR, interactivity and immersion, influence a number of cognitive and affective variables that may facilitate or hinder learning. In addition, VR studies often involve media comparisons that make it difficult to disentangle the relative effects of technological features on learning. Therefore, this study also aims to provide insights concerning the unique and combined effects of interactivity and immersion on the cognitive and affective variables specified by CAMIL. We employed a 2 × 2 between-subjects design (N = 153) and manipulated the degree of interactivity and immersion during a virtual lesson on the topic of viral diseases. Analyses of variance (ANOVAs) were used to examine the effects of interactivity and immersion on our variables of interest, and structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to assess the process of learning as predicted by the CAMIL. The results indicated that the process of learning involves situational interest and embodied learning. Main effects of interactivity and/or immersion on cognitive load, situational interest, and physical presence are also reported in addition to interaction effects between immersion and interactivity on agency and embodied learning. The findings provide evidence for the CAMIL and suggest important additions to the model. These findings can be used to provide a better understanding of the process of learning in immersive VR and guide future immersive learning research.

Full citation:

Petersen, G., Petkakis, G., & Makransky, G. (2022). A study of how immersion and interactivity drive VR learning. Computers & Education, 179, 104429. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2021.104429

A self-administered virtual reality intervention increases COVID-19vaccination intention

Aske Mottelson, Clara Vandeweerdt, Michael Atchapero, Tiffany Luong, Christian Holz, Robert Böhm, Guido Makransky

October 8, 2021

Effective interventions for increasing people’s intention to get vaccinated are crucial for global health, especially considering COVID-19. We devised a novel intervention using virtual reality (VR) consisting of a consultation with a general practitioner for communicating the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination and, in turn, increasing the intention to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

We conducted a preregistered online experiment with a 2×2 between-participant design. People with eligible VR headsets were invited to install our experimental application and complete the ten minute virtual consultation study at their own discretion. Participants were randomly assigned across two age conditions (young or old self-body) and two communication conditions (with provision of personal benefit of vaccination only, or collective and personal benefit). The primary outcome was vaccination intention (score range 1–100) measured three times: immediately before and after the study, as well as one week later.

Five-hundred-and-seven adults not vaccinated against COVID-19 were recruited. Among the 282 participants with imperfect vaccination intentions (<100), the VR intervention increased pre-to-post vaccination intentions across intervention conditions (mean difference 8.6, 95% CI 6.1 to 11.1,p<0.0001). The pre-to-post difference significantly correlated with the vaccination intention one week later, ρ=0.20,p<0.0001.

The VR intervention was effective in increasing COVID-19 vaccination intentions both when only personal benefits and personal and collective benefits of vaccination were communicated, with significant retention one week after the intervention. Utilizing recent evidence from health psychology and embodiment research to develop immersive environments with customized and salient communication efforts could therefore be an effective tool to complement public health campaigns.

Full citation:

Mottelson, A., Vandeweerdt, C., Atchapero, M., Luong, T., Holz, C., Böhm, R., & Makransky, G. (2021). A self-administered virtual reality intervention increases COVID-19 vaccination intention. Vaccine, 39(46), 6746-6753. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2021.10.004

Investigating the redundancy principle in immersive virtual reality environments: An eye-tracking and EEG study

Sarune Baceviciute, Gordon Lucas, Thomas Terkildsen, Guido Makransky

August 25, 2021
Journal of Computer Assisted Learning

Background The increased availability of immersive virtual reality (IVR) has led to a surge of immersive technology applications in education. Nevertheless, very little is known about how to effectively design instruction for this new media, so that it would benefit learning and associated cognitive processing. Objectives This experiment explores if and how traditional instructional design principles from 2D media translate to IVR. Specifically, it focuses on studying the underlying mechanisms of the redundancy‐principle, which states that presenting the same information concurrently in two different sensory channels can cause cognitive overload and might impede learning. Methods A total of 73 participants learned through a specifically‐designed educational IVR application in three versions: (1) auditory representation format, (2) written representation format, and (3) a redundancy format (i.e. both written and auditory formats). The study utilized advanced psychophysiological methods of Electroencephalography (EEG) and eye‐tracking (ET), learning measures and self‐report scales. Results and Conclusions Results show that participants in the redundancy condition performed equally well on retention and transfer post‐tests. Similarly, results from the subjective measures, EEG and ET suggest that redundant content was not found to be more cognitively demanding than written content alone. Implications Findings suggest that the redundancy effect might not generalize to VR as originally anticipated in 2D media research, providing direct implications to the design of IVR tools for education.

Full citation:

Baceviciute, S., Lucas, G., Terkildsen, T., & Makransky, G. (2021). Investigating the redundancy principle in immersive virtual reality environments: An eye‐tracking and EEG study. Journal Of Computer Assisted Learning, 38(1), 120-136. doi: 10.1111/jcal.12595

Pedagogical Agents in Educational VR: An in the Wild Study.

Gustav Bøg Petersen, Aske Mottelson, and Guido Makransky.

May 8, 2021
Proceedings of the 2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems

Pedagogical agents are theorized to increase humans’ effort to understand computerized instructions. Despite the pedagogical promises of VR, the usefulness of pedagogical agents in VR remains uncertain. Based on this gap, and inspired by global efforts to advance remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, we conducted an educational VR study in-the-wild (𝑁 = 161). With a2 × 2 + 1 between subjects design, we manipulated the appearance and behavior of a virtual museum guide in an exhibition about viruses. Factual and conceptual learning outcomes as well as subjective learning experience measures were collected. In general,participants reported high enjoyment and had significant knowledge acquisition. We found that the agent’s appearance and behavior impacted factual knowledge gain. We also report an interaction effect between behavioral and visual realism for conceptual knowledge gain. Our findings nuance classical multimedia learning theories and provide directions for employing agents in immersive learning environments.

Full citation:

Petersen, B., G., Mottelson A., & Makransky G., (2021). Pedagogical Agents in Educational VR: An in the Wild Study. Proceedings of the 2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 1–13. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3411764.3445760


Virtual Reality (VR) has the potential to enrich education but little is known about how unique affordances of immersive technology might influence leaning and cognition. This study investigates one particular affordance of VR, namely environmental embeddedness, which enables learners to be situated in simulated or imagined settings that contextualize their learning. A sample of 51 university students were administered written learning material in a between-subjects design study, wherein one group read text about sarcoma cancer on a physical pamphlet in the real world, and the other group read identical text on a virtual pamphlet embedded in an immersive VR environment which resembled a hospital room. The study combined advanced EEG measurement techniques, learning tests, and cognitive load measures to compare conditions. Results show that the VR group performed significantly better on a knowledge transfer post-test. However, reading in VR was found to be more cognitively effortful and less time-efficient. Findings suggest the significance of environmental embeddedness for learning, and provide important considerations for the design of educational VR environments, as we remediate learning content from non-immersive to immersive media.

Full citation:

Baceviciute, S., Terkildsen, T., & Makransky, G. (2021). Remediating Learning from Non-immersive to Immersive Media: Using EEG to Investigate the Effects of Environmental Embeddedness on Reading in Virtual Reality. Computers & Education, (ISSN 0360-1315), 104122. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2020.104122

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What is top of our feed?

Our team

Guido Makransky

Founder, Associate Professor

Gustav Bøg Petersen

PhD Fellow

Martin Stolpe Andersen

PhD Fellow

Adéla Plechatá

Lab Manager

Liisalotte Elme

Research Assistant

Michael Atchapero

VR Developer

Andreas Elleby Jespersen

Research Assistant

Oleg Eni

VR Developer

Sara Klingenberg

Student Assistant

Zuzanna Bald

Communications Assistant

Valdemar Stenberdt

Student Assistant

Giorgos Petkakis

Student Assistant

Open positions

There are currently no open positions, but do reach out if you would like to collaborate!


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