Exploring virtual and augmented reality with experimental psychology

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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.

Mastery experiences in immersive virtual reality promote pro-environmental waste-sorting behavior

Valdemar Aksel Stenberdt & Guido Makransky

February 17, 2023
Computers & Education

The rapid digitalization following COVID-19 necessitates best-practice knowledge on how to use educational technologies such as immersive virtual reality (IVR). At the same time, to deal with climate change, we require new ways to embed climate change education in formal education. The current study is one of the first to investigate the feasibility of an alternative educational approach to improving waste management in the classroom as part of formal education, utilizing mastery experiences in IVR. We explore the use of a novel IVR simulation on waste management, an example of pro-environmental behavior, for climate change education. A total of 173 high school students participated in a pre-registered intervention investigating the impact of IVR on knowledge and intentions to act pro-environmentally. A 2x2 design was used to compare different design approaches to the IVR simulation based on the instructional design elements of the in- struction sequence (Direct Instruction vs. Productive Failure) and feedback (Corrective Feedback vs. Exaggerated Feedback). The results indicated that IVR was effective for increasing students’ knowledge (η2 = 0.41), intentions (η2 = 0.10), self-efficacy (η2 = 0.4), and response efficacy (η2 = 0.35) and that students found the simulation interesting and enjoyable. Furthermore, self-efficacy was found to predict intentions (B = 0.190, p = .015), supporting the idea that cognitive and affective factors drive the effectiveness of IVR. No significant differences were found in the effectiveness of the instructional design elements. This suggests that IVR can be an effective educational technology for learning through mastery experiences, but that more research on the boundary conditions of how and when to apply different instructional design elements effectively is needed.

Full citation:

Aksel Stenberdt, V., & Makransky, G. (2023). Mastery experiences in immersive virtual reality promote pro-environmental waste-sorting behavior. Computers & Education, 198, 104760. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2023.104760

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

November 7, 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. J. A., & Makransky, G. (2022). Why Just Experience the Future When You Can Change It: Virtual Reality Can Increase Pro-Environmental Food Choices Through Self-Efficacy. Technology, Mind, and Behavior, 3(4: Winter). https://tmb.apaopen.org/pub/s7ulq9uy

Demographic and Behavioral Correlates of Cybersickness: A Large Lab-in-the-Field Study of 837 Participants

Tiffany Luong, Adela Plechata, Max Mobus, Michael Atchapero, Robert Bohm, Guido Makransky and Christian Holz

October 28, 2022

Cybersickness has been one of the main impediments to thewidespread adoption of Virtual Reality for decades. It has beenargued that several factors can influence the occurrence of cybersickness, such as technical factors, interaction design, but also users’ demographics and their perceived presence. Yet, previous studies hadcomparably small sample sizes and demographically homogeneoussamples; comparisons across studies (e.g., regarding demographicfactors) are challenging due to the large variation in the studiedvirtual environments. In this paper, we address these limitations andreport the results of a lab-in-the-field experiment on cybersicknesswith a large and heterogeneous sample of N = 837 participants whonavigated and interacted inside a virtual environment (ages 18–80,M = 29.34, SD = 9.50, 431 males, 400 females, 6 non-binaries andother). We found that female participants and participants with lowerVR experience were more susceptible to experiencing higher levelsof cybersickness. Participants’ cybersickness levels increased withthe time spent in VR and with the distance traversed in the virtualworld up to a point, above which reported levels declined. We alsofound a link between higher levels of cybersickness and reducedhead motion, as well as between lower levels of cybersickness andmore head motion, which led them to explore more of the virtual environment. In contrast to past studies, we did not find any evidencesuggesting an effect of age on cybersickness, nor a negative correlation between presence and cybersickness. Based on our results,we derived a model that achieves a mean classification accuracyof 67.1% for two levels of cybersickness using demographic, userexperience, and behavioral data in VR.

Full citation:

Luong, T., Plechatá, A., Möbus, M., Atchapero, M., Böhm, R., Makransky, G., & Holz, C. (2022). Demographic and behavioral correlates of cybersickness: A large lab-in-the-field study of 837 participants. IEEE ISMAR 2022.

Fostering science interests through head‐mounted displays

Martin Stolpe Andersen, Sara Klingenberg, Gustav Bøg Petersen, Peter A. Creed, Guido Makransky

October 25, 2022
Journal of Computer Assisted Learning

Background Research suggests that head‐mounted displays (HMD) can spark situational interest when they are used to provide science learning experiences that are not possible in traditional classroom settings. However, few studies have investigated the lasting effects of using HMDs in an authentic instructional intervention. Objectives We investigated the effects of a one‐time experience of a virtual field trip to Greenland in a sample of 105 middle school students. Methods Students used either a standard 2D video (video condition; N = 50) or an HMD (HMD condition; N = 55) as part of a six‐lesson educational activity on the topic of climate change. Informed by social cognitive career theory (SCCT), we investigated the effects of the different conditions (video vs. HMD) on the outcomes of self‐efficacy, outcome expectations, interest, and science intentions across three time points. Results and Conclusions The results showed that using the HMD‐based virtual field trip, compared to the video, had a positive immediate effect on self‐efficacy and interest, and total later effects on self‐efficacy, outcome expectations, and interest an average of two and a half weeks after the virtual field trip. The results suggest that HMD‐based virtual field trips can influence self‐efficacy, outcome expectations, and interest more than a video‐based virtual field trip when measured approximately two and a half weeks after the intervention.

Full citation:

Andersen, M. S., Klingenberg, S., Petersen, G. B., Creed, P. A., & Makransky, G. (2022). Fostering science interests through head‐mounted displays. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcal.12749

Experiencing herd immunity in virtual reality increases COVID-19 vaccination intention: Evidence from a large-scale field intervention study

Adéla Plechatá, Clara Vandeweerdt, Michael Atchapero, Tiffany Luong, Christian Holz, Cornelia Betsch, Bonnie Dietermann, Yori Schultka, Robert Böhm and Guido Makransky

October 17, 2022
Computers in Human Behavior

This study investigates the impact of an immersive virtual reality (VR) simulation of herd immunity on vaccination intentions and its potential underlying mechanisms. In this preregistered field study, N = 654 participants were randomly assigned to one of the three VR conditions: (1) Gamified Herd Immunity; (2) Gamified Herd Immunity + Empathy (with additional narrative elements); (3) Control (gamified with no vaccination-related content). In the Gamified Herd Immunity simulation, participants embodied a vulnerable person and navigated a wedding venue trying to avoid getting infected. A total of 455 participants with below maximum intentions to take a novel vaccine and without severe cybersickness were analyzed. The Gamified Herd Immunity + Empathy and the Gamified Herd Immunity conditions increased vaccination intentions by 6.68 and 7.06 points on a 0–100 scale, respectively, compared to 1.91 for the Control condition. The Gamified Herd Immunity + Empathy condition enhanced empathy significantly more than the Gamified Herd Immunity condition but did not result in higher vaccination intentions. Experienced presence was related to the change in vaccination intentions. The results suggest that VR vaccination communication can effectively increase vaccination intentions; the effect is not solely due to the technological novelty and does not depend on empathy.

Full citation:

Plechatá Adé., Vandeweerdt C., Atchapero M., Luong T., Holz C., Betsch C., Dietermann B., Schultka Y., Böhm R. & Makransky G., Experiencing herd immunity in virtual reality increases COVID-19 vaccination intention: Evidence from a large-scale field intervention study, Computers in Human Behavior (2022), doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2022.107533.

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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

Valdemar Stenberdt

Student Assistant

Sara Klingenberg

Student Assistant

Noelle Bender

Student Assistant
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