Exploring virtual and augmented reality with experimental psychology

About us

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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What is going on at the Virtual Learning Lab?

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Our Research Areas

See the projects that we have been working on!

Our lab is dedicated to studying how VR affects learning, specifically we investigate what makes learning in immersive VR effective, what is the role of virtual humans and how can we develop training scenarios. Furthermore, we use this knowledge to investigate the role of VR in promoting sustainable attitudes or other prosocial behavioral changes. Click on the categories below to see the projects described in more detail:

Research Grants

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Read what we have recently published.

Pipetting in Virtual Reality Can Predict Real-Life Pipetting Performance

Gustav Bøg Petersen, Sara Klingenberg, Guido Makransky

July 21, 2022
Technology, Mind, and Behavior

Can a virtual reality (VR) simulation promote acquisition of scientific skills with real-life practicability? In order to answer this question, we conducted (I) an online study (N = 126) and (II) a field study at a high school (N = 47). Study I focused on the instructional design of VR by comparing the effects of different pedagogical agents on acquiring pipetting skills. We found no significant differences between the conditions, that is, it did not seem to make a difference whether the pedagogical agent was present or not, or if it demonstrated the procedure or not. Study II focused on transfer of skills learned in VR to real-life with the addition of a control group who were taught by a real-life instructor. The results indicated that performance in VR can predict performance on a real-life transfer test. However, comparisons between the two groups showed that the students who received virtual training made more errors, experienced more extraneous cognitive load, and learned less compared to the students who were taught by the real-life instructor. Across both studies, all students experienced an increase in self-efficacy from prior to after the intervention, although the students taught by the real-life instructor experienced the largest increases in Study II. Hence, VR should not replace traditional ways of teaching scientific procedures. Rather, it can be a complement to traditional teaching that can increase accessibility.

Full citation:

Petersen, G. B., Klingenberg, S., & Makransky, G. (2022). Pipetting in Virtual Reality Can Predict Real-Life Pipetting Performance. Technology, Mind, and Behavior, 3(3). https://doi.org/10.1037/tmb0000076

Immersive Virtual Reality in STEM: Is IVR an Effective Learning Medium and Does Adding Self-Explanation after a Lesson Improve Learning Outcomes?

Elme, L., Jørgensen, M. L. M., Dandanell, G., Mottelson, A., Makransky, G.

July 18, 2022
Educational Technology Research and Development

The goal of the current study was to investigate the effects of an immersive virtual reality (IVR) science simulation on learning in a higher educational setting, and to assess whether using self-explanation has benefits for knowledge gain. A sample of 79 undergraduate biology students (40 females, 37 males, 2 non-binary) learned about next-generation sequencing using an IVR simulation that lasted approximately 45 min. Students were randomly assigned to one of two instructional conditions: self-explanation (n = 41) or control (n = 38). The self-explanation group engaged in a 10 min written self-explanation task after the IVR biology lesson, while the control group rested. The results revealed that the IVR simulation led to a significant increase in knowledge from the pre- to post-test (ßPosterior = 3.29). There were no differences between the self-explanation and control groups on knowledge gain, procedural, or conceptual transfer. Finally, the results indicate that the self-explanation group reported significantly higher intrinsic cognitive load (ßPosterior = .35), and extraneous cognitive load (ßPosterior = .37), and significantly lower germane load (ßPosterior =  − .38) than the control group. The results suggest that the IVR lesson was effective for learning, but adding a written self-explanation task did not increase learning after a long IVR lesson.

Full citation:

Elme, L., Jørgensen, M. L. M., Dandanell, G., Mottelson, A., &Makransky, G. (2022). Immersive Virtual Reality in STEM: Is IVR an Effective Learning Medium and Does Adding Self-Explanation after a Lesson Improve Learning Outcomes? Educational Technology Research and Development.

Why just Experience the Future when you can Change it: Virtual Reality can Increase Pro-Environmental Food Choices through Self-Efficacy

Adéla Plechatá, Thomas Morton, Federico J.A. Perez-Cueto and Guido Makransky

May 31, 2022
Technology, Mind and Behaviour

Immersive Virtual Reality (IVR) has the potential to play an important role in increasing environmental literacy by providing individuals the opportunity to experience plausible scenarios of climate change directly. However, there is currently little evidence for the role of IVR, and for specific design features, in increasing environmental self-efficacy. The main objective of this study was to investigate the effects of an IVR intervention on pro-environmental intentions, knowledge, and transfer. A total of 90 middle school students were randomly assigned to two IVR intervention conditions: 1) Awareness, in which students experience the impact of their current food choices on future environmental change; 2) Awareness + Efficacy, in which students had the opportunity to change their food choices and experience the positive impact of this on future environmental change. Both interventions resulted in significant increases in intentions, knowledge, and transfer. However, the Awareness + Efficacy condition resulted in further significant increases in intentions and transfer than the Awareness condition. Finally, mediation analysis showed that the effect of the Awareness + Efficacy condition on intentions and transfer was fully mediated by self-efficacy. These results suggest that allowing students not just to experience climate change but also to see the positive impact of changed personal choices can maximize the effectiveness of IVR on intentions and transfer.

Full citation:

Plechatá, A., Morton, T., Perez-Cueto, F., Makransky, G. (2022). Why just Experience the Future when you can Change it: Virtual Reality can Increase Pro-Environmental Food Choices through Self-Efficacy.


This study describes and investigates the immersion principle in multimedia learning. A sample of 102 middle school students took a virtual field trip to Greenland via a head mounted display (HMD) or a 2D video as an introductory lesson within a 6-lesson inquiry-based climate change intervention. The HMD group scored significantly higher than the video group on presence (d = 1.43), enjoyment (d = 1.10), interest (d = .57), and retention in an immediate (d = .61) and delayed posttest (d = .70). A structural equation model indicated that enjoyment mediated the pathway from instructional media to immediate posttest, and interest mediated the pathway from instructional media to delayed posttest score, indicating that these factors may play different roles in the learning process with immersive media. This work contributes to the cognitive affective model of immersive learning, and suggests that immersive lessons can have positive longitudinal effects for learning.

Full citation:

Makransky, G., Mayer, R.E. Benefits of Taking a Virtual Field Trip in Immersive Virtual Reality: Evidence for the Immersion Principle in Multimedia Learning. Educ Psychol Rev (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10648-022-09675-4

Virtual reality reduces COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the wild: A randomized trial

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

March 17, 2022
Scientific Reports

Vaccine hesitancy poses one of the largest threats to global health. Informing people about the collective benefit of vaccination has great potential in increasing vaccination intentions. This research investigates the potential for engaging experiences in immersive virtual reality (VR) to strengthen participants’ understanding of community immunity, and therefore, their intention to get vaccinated. In a pre-registered lab-in-the-field intervention study, participants were recruited in a public park (tested: n = 232, analyzed: n = 222). They were randomly assigned to experience the collective benefit of community immunity in a gamified immersive virtual reality environment (2/3 of sample), or to receive the same information via text and images (1/3 of sample). Before and after the intervention, participants indicated their intention to take up a hypothetical vaccine for a new COVID-19 strain (0–100 scale) and belief in vaccination as a collective responsibility (1–7 scale). The study employs a crossover design (participants later received a second treatment), but the primary outcome is the effect of the first treatment on vaccination intention. After the VR treatment, for participants with less-than-maximal vaccination intention, intention increases by 9.3 points (95% CI: 7.0 to 11.5, p < 0.001). The text-and- image treatment raises vaccination intention by 3.3 points (difference in effects: 5.8, 95% CI: 2.0 to 9.5, p = 0.003). The VR treatment also increases collective responsibility by 0.82 points (95% CI: 0.37 to 1.27, p < 0.001). The results suggest that VR interventions are an effective tool for boosting vaccination intention, and that they can be applied “in the wild”—providing a complementary method for vaccine advocacy.

Full citation:

Vanderveert, C., Luong, T., Atchapero, M., Mottelson, A., Holz, C., Makransky, G., & Böhm, R. (2022). Virtual reality reduces COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the wild: A randomized trial. Scientific Reports.

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What is top of our feed?

Our team

Guido Makransky

Founder, Associate Professor

Adéla Plechatá

Post Doc, Lab Manager

Gustav Bøg Petersen

PhD Fellow

Michael Atchapero

VR Developer

Andreas Elleby Jespersen

Research Assistant

Sara Klingenberg

Student Assistant

Alice Kwakye

Student Assistant

Valdemar Stenberdt

Student Assistant

Andrew Dai


Xi-Ning Wang


Open positions

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


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