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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.
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
Cognitive load theory (CLT) has been widely used to help understand the process of learning and to design teaching interventions. The Cognitive Load Scale (CLS) developed by Leppink et al., (2013) has emerged as one of the most validated and widely used self-report measures of intrinsic load (IL), extraneous load (EL), and germane load (GL). In this paper we investigated an expansion of the CLS by using a multidimensional conceptualization of the EL construct that is relevant for physical and online teaching environments. The Multidimensional Cognitive Load Scale for Physical and Online Lectures (MCLS-POL) goes beyond the CLS’s operationalization of EL by expanding the EL component which originally included factors related to instructions/explanations with sub-dimensions including EL stemming from noises, and EL stemming from both media and devices within the environment. Through three studies, we investigated the reliability, and internal and external validity of the MCLS-POL using the Partial Credit Model, Confirmatory Factor Analysis, and differences between students either attending a lecture physically or online (Study 2 and 3). The results of Study 1 (N = 250) provide initial evidence for the validity and reliability of the MCLS-POL within a higher education sample, but also highlighted several potential improvements which could be made to the measure. These changes were made before re-evaluating the validity and reliability of the measure in a new sample of higher education psychology students (N = 140, Study 2), and DEVELOPMENT AND VALIDATION OF THE MCLS-POL 3psychological testing students (N = 119, Study 3). Together the studies provide evidence for a multidimensional conceptualization cognitive load and provide evidence of the validity, reliability, and sensitivity of the MCLS-POL and provide suggestions for future research directions.
Andersen, M. S., & Makransky, G. (2021). The Validation and Further Development of the Multidimensional Cognitive Load Scale for Physical and Online Lectures (MCLS-POL). Frontiers in Psychology.
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.
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
There has been a surge in interest and implementation of Immersive Virtual Reality (IVR) based lessons in education and training recently, which has resulted in many studies on the topic. There are recent reviews which summarize this research, but little work has been done that synthesizes the existing findings into a theoretical framework. The Cognitive Affective Model of Immersive Learning (CAMIL) synthesizes existing immersive educational research to describe the process of learning in IVR. The general theoretical framework of the model suggests that instructional methods which are based on evidence from research with less immersive media generalize to learning in IVR. However, the CAMIL builds on evidence that media interacts with method. That is, certain methods which facilitate the affordances of IVR are specifically relevant in this medium. The CAMIL identifies presence and agency as the general psychological affordances of learning in IVR, and describes how immersion, control factors, and representational fidelity facilitate these affordances. The model describes six affective and cognitive factors that can lead to IVR based learning outcomes including interest, motivation, self-efficacy, embodiment, cognitive load, and self-regulation. The model also describes how these factors lead to factual, conceptual, and procedural knowledge acquisition and knowledge transfer. Implications for future research and instructional design are proposed.
Makransky, G., & Petersen, B. G., (2020). The Cognitive Affective Model of Immersive Learning (CAMIL): A Theoretical Research-Based Model of Learning in Immersive Virtual Reality. Educational Psychology Review. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10648-020-09586-2
Measuring cognitive load is important in virtual learning environments (VLE). Thus, valid and reliable measures of cognitive load are important to support instructional design in VLE. Through three studies, we investigated the validity and reliability of Leppink’s Cognitive Load Scale (CLS) and developed the extraneous cognitive load (EL) dimension into three sub-scales relevant for VLE: EL instructions, EL interaction, and EL environment. We investigated the validity of the measures using the Partial Credit Model (PCM), Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA), and correlations with retention tests. Study 1 (n = 73) investigated the adapted version of the CLS. Study 2 describes the development and validation of the Multidimensional Cognitive Load Scale for Virtual Environments (MCLSVE), with 140 students in higher education. Study 3 tested the generalizability of the results with 121 higher education students in a more complicated VLE. The results provide initial evidence for the validity and reliability of the MCLSVE.
Andersen, M.S., & Makransky, G. (2020). The Validation and Further Development of a Multidimensional Cognitive Load Scale for Virtual Environments. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning
Immersive virtual reality (IVR) simulations for education have been found to increase affective outcomes compared to traditional media, but the effects on learning are mixed. As reflection has previously shown to enhance learning in traditional media, we investigated the efficacy of appropriate reflection exercises for IVR. In a 2 × 2 mixed‐methods experiment, 89 (61 female) undergraduate biochemistry students learned about the electron transport chain through desktop virtual reality (DVR) and IVR (media conditions). Approximately, half of each group engaged in a subsequent generative learning strategy (GLS) of teaching in pairs (method conditions). A significant interaction between media and methods illustrated that the GLS of teaching significantly improved transfer (d = 1.26), retention (d = 0.60) and self‐efficacy (d = 0.82) when learning through IVR, but not DVR. In the second part of the study, students switched media conditions and the experiment was repeated. This time, significant main effects favoring the IVR group on the outcomes of intrinsic motivation (d = 0.16), perceived enjoyment (d = 0.94) and presence (d = 1.29) were observed, indicating that students preferred IVR after having experienced both media conditions. The results support the view that methods enable media that affect learning and that the GLS of teaching is specifically relevant for IVR.
Klingenberg, S., Jørgensen, M., Dandanell, G., Skriver, K., Mottelson, A., & Makransky, G., 2020. Investigating the effect of teaching as a generative learning strategy when learning through desktop and immersive VR: A media and methods experiment. British Journal of Educational Technology.
Immersive Virtual Reality (IVR) is being used for educational virtual field trips (VFTs) involving scenarios that may be too difficult, dangerous or expensive to experience in real life. We implemented an immersive VFT within the investigation phase of an inquiry‐based learning (IBL) climate change intervention. Students investigated the consequences of climate change by virtually traveling to Greenland and exploring albedo and greenhouse effects first hand. A total of 102 seventh and eighth grade students were randomly assigned to one of two instructional conditions: (1) narrated pretraining followed by IVR exploration or (2) the same narrated training material integrated within the IVR exploration. Students in both conditions showed significant increases in declarative knowledge, self‐efficacy, interest, STEM intentions, outcome expectations and intentions to change behavior from the pre‐ to post‐assessment. However, there was a significant difference between conditions favoring the pretraining group on a transfer test consisting of an oral presentation to a fictitious UN panel. The findings suggest that educators can choose to present important prerequisite learning content before or during a VFT. However, adding pretraining may lead to better transfer test performance, presumably because it helps reduce cognitive load while learning in IVR.
Petersen, G.B., Klingenberg, S., Mayer, R.E., & Makransky, G. (2020), The virtual field trip: Investigating how to optimize immersive virtual learning in climate change education. Br J Educ Technol. doi:10.1111/bjet.12991
This study was designed to assess whether the combined effect of taste-congruent and incongruent extrinsic visual cues presented in virtual reality (VR) influences the perception of sweetness and product liking. Three VR environments (sweet-congruent, sweet-incongruent, and neutral) were created based on the evidence in existing literature. Participants tasted the same beverage in three VR environments and evaluated the environment and beverage liking, as well as perceived taste intensity (sweetness, sourness, and bitterness), congruency, comfort, and environment vividness. Frontal EEG alpha asymmetry (FAA) was also recorded as a complementary physiological measurement of overall liking. The results showed that the perceived sweetness of the beverage was significantly elevated in a sweet-congruent environment versus the other environments. Visual-taste congruency did not seem to have an effect on beverage liking and overall liking, whereas an increase in environment liking was found in the incongruent environment versus the other environments. These findings confirmed the significant influence of taste-specific visual cues on flavour perception, while the successful use of VR in the study provided insight into future applications of taste-specific VR environment in the modulation of flavour perception and sugar reduction.
Chen, Y., Huang, A. X., Faber, I., Makransky, G., & Perez-Cueto, F. J. (2020). Assessing the influence of visual-taste congruency on perceived sweetness and product liking in immersive VR. Foods, 9(4), 465. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods9040465
This paper reports findings from a between-subjects experiment that investigates how different learning content representations in virtual environments (VE) affect the process and outcomes of learning. Seventy-eight participants were subjected to an immersive virtual reality (VR) application, where they received identical instructional information, rendered in three different formats: as text in an overlay interface, as text embedded semantically in a virtual book, or as audio. Learning outcome measures, self-reports, and an electroencephalogram (EEG) were used to compare conditions. Results show that reading was superior to listening for the learning outcomes of retention, self-efficacy, and extraneous attention. Reading text from a virtual book was reported to be less cognitively demanding, compared to reading from an overlay interface. EEG analyses show significantly lower theta and higher alpha activation in the audio condition. The findings provide important considerations for the design of educational VR environments.
Baceviciute, S., Mottelson, A., Terkildsen, T., & Makransky, G. (2020). Investigating Representation of Text and Audio in Educational VR using Learning Outcomes and EEG. In Proceedings of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’20). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 9 pages. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/3313831.3376872
Science-related competencies are demanded in many fields, but attracting more students to scientific educations remains a challenge. This paper uses two studies to investigate the value of using Immersive Virtual Reality (IVR) laboratory simulations in science education. In Study 1, 99 (52 male, 47 female) 7th (49) and 8th (50) grade students between 13 and 16 years of age used an IVR laboratory safety simulation with a pre- to post-test design. Results indicated an overall increase in interest in science and self-efficacy, but only females reported an increase in science career aspirations. Study 2 was conducted with 131 (47 male, 84 female) second (77) and third (54) year high school students aged 17 to 20 and used an experimental design to compare the value of using an IVR simulation or a video of the simulation on the topic of DNA-analysis. The IVR group reported significantly higher gains from pre- to post-test on interest, and social outcome expectations than the video group. Furthermore, both groups had significant gains in self-efficacy and physical outcome expectations, but the increase in career aspirations and self-outcome expectations did not reach statistical significance. Thus, results from the two studies suggest that appropriately developed and implemented IVR simulations can address some of the challenges currently facing science education.
Makransky, G., Petersen G. B., & Klingenberg, S. (2020). Can an Immersive Virtual Reality Simulation Increase Students’ Interest and Career Aspirations in Science?British Journal of Educational Technology. DOI: 10.1111/bjet.12954
We investigated the instructional effectiveness of using an interactive and immersive virtual reality (IVR) simulation versus a video for teaching scientific knowledge in 2 between-subjects experiments. In Experiment 1, 131 high school students (84 females) used a science simulation that involved forensic analysis of a collected DNA sample in a virtual laboratory environment rendered in IVR or as a video covering the same material. In Experiment 2, 165 high school students (111 females) replicated the experiment with approximately half of each group being asked to engage in the generative learning strategy of enactment after the lesson—that is, carrying out the learned procedures with concrete manipulatives. Across both experiments, the IVR groups reported significantly higher perceived enjoyment and presence than the video group. However, no significant differences were found between media for procedural knowledge in Experiment 1 and 2, or transfer in Experiment 2. Also, there was no difference in declarative knowledge across media in Experiment 1, and there was a media effect favoring video in Experiment 2 (ηp² = 0.028). Enactment lead to significantly better procedural knowledge (ηp² = 0.144) and transfer (ηp² = 0.088) in the IVR group but not in the video group. In conclusion, learning in IVR is not more effective than learning with video but incorporating generative learning strategies is specifically effective when learning through IVR. The results suggest that the value of IVR for learning science depends on how it is integrated into a classroom lesson.
Makransky, G., Andreasen, N. K, Baceviciute S., & Mayer R. M. (2020). Immersive Virtual Reality Increases Liking but Not Learning with a Science Simulation and Generative Learning Strategies Promote Learning in Immersive Virtual Reality. Journal of Educational Psychology. DOI: 10.1037/edu0000473
This paper compared learning using different media: VR and Video. The effect of pre-training on learning in either medium was also investigated.
In an experiment we found on one hand that VR is rated higher in perceived enjoyment, and on the other hand that only in the VR condition knowledge, retention and self-efficacy were positively affected by pre-training. Our study therefore suggests that implementing VR in education requires specific instructional methods.
Meyer, O. A., Omdahl, M. K., & Makransky, G. (2019). Investigating the effect of pre-training when learning through immersive virtual reality and video: A media and methods experiment. Computers & Education, 103603.Chicago
The main objective of this study was to examine the effectiveness of immersive virtual reality (VR) as a medium for delivering laboratory safety training, based on multiple assessment methods. We specifically compare an immersive VR simulation, a desktop VR simulation, and a conventional text-based safety manual. A sample of105 first year undergraduate engineering students (49 males and 56 females) participated in an experimental design wherein students were randomly assigned to one of the three training conditions. We include five types of learning outcomes including post-test enjoyment ratings; pre- to post-test changes in intrinsic motivation and self-efficacy; a post-test multiple choice retention test; and two behavioral transfer tests. Results indicated that the groups did not differ on the immediate retention test, suggesting that all three media were equivalent in conveying the basic knowledge. However, significant differences were observed favoring the immersive VR group compared to the text group on the two transfer tests involving the solving problems in a physical lab setting (d = 0.54, d = 0.57), as well as on ratings of perceived enjoyment (d = 1.44) and increases in intrinsic motivation (d = 0.69) and self-efficacy (d = 0.60). The desktop VR group scored significantly higher than the text group on one transfer test (d = 0.63) but not the other (d = 0.11), as well as on the perceived enjoyment (d = 1.11) and increases in intrinsic motivation (d = 0.83). The results suggest that behavioral measures of transfer in realistic settings may be necessary to accurately assess the instructional value of VR learning environments.
Makransky, G., Borre‐Gude, S., & Mayer, R.E. (2019). Motivational and cognitive benefits of training in immersive virtual reality based on multiple assessments. J Comput Assist Learn. 2019; 35: 691– 707. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcal.12375
There is great potential in making assessment and learning complementary. In this study, we investigated the feasibility of developing a desktop virtual reality (VR) laboratory sim- ulation on the topic of genetics, with integrated assessment using multiple choice ques- tions based on item response theory (IRT) and feedback based on the cognitive theory of multimedia learning. A pre-test post-test design was used to investigate three research questions related to: (1) students’ perceptions of assessment in the form of MC questions within the VR genetics simulation; (2) the fit of the MC questions to the assumptions of the partial credit model (PCM) within the framework of IRT; and (3) if there was a signifi- cant increase in intrinsic motivation, self-efficacy, and transfer from pre- to post-test after using the VR genetics simulation as a classroom learning activity. The sample consisted of 208 undergraduate students taking a medical genetics course. The results showed that assessment items in the form of gamified multiple-choice questions were perceived by 97% of the students to lead to higher levels of understanding, and only 8% thought that they made the simulation more boring. Items within a simulation were found to fit the PCM and the results showed that the sample had a small significant increase in intrinsic motivation and self-efficacy, and a large significant increase in transfer following the genetics simu- lation. It was possible to develop assessments for online educational material and retain the relevance and connectedness of informal assessment while simultaneously serving the communicative and credibility-based functions of formal assessment, which is a great chal- lenge facing education today.
Makransky, G., Mayer, R., Nøremølle, A., Cordoba, A. L., Wandall, J., & Bonde, M. (2019). Investigating the feasibility of using assessment and explanatory feedback in desktop virtual reality simulations. Educational Technology Research and Development, 1-25.
The use of virtual laboratories is growing as companies and educational institutions try to expand their reach, cut costs, increase student understanding, and provide more accessible hands on training for future scientists. Many new higher education initiatives outsource lab activities so students now perform them online in a virtual environment rather than in a classroom setting, thereby saving time and money while increasing accessibility. In this paper we explored whether the learning and motivational outcomes of interacting with a desktop virtual reality (VR) science lab simulation on the internet at home are equivalent to interacting with the same simulation in class with teacher supervision. A sample of 112 (76 female) university biology students participated in a between-subjects experimental design, in which participants learned at home or in class from the same virtual laboratory simulation on the topic of microbiology. The home and classroom groups did not differ significantly on post-test learning outcome scores, or on self-report measures of intrinsic motivation or self-efficacy. Furthermore, these conclusions remained after accounting for prior knowledge or goal orientation. In conclusion, the results indicate that virtual simulations are learning activities that students can engage in just as effectively outside of the classroom environment.
Makransky G, Mayer RE, Veitch N, Hood M, Christensen KB, Gadegaard H (2019) Equivalence of using a desktop virtual reality science simulation at home and in class. PLoS ONE 14(4): e0214944. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0214944
A 2×2 between-subjects experiment (a) investigated and compared the instructional effectiveness of immersive virtual reality (VR) versus video as media for teaching scientific procedural knowledge, and (b) examined the efficacy of enactment as a generative learning strategy in combination with the respective instructional media. A total of 117 high school students (74 females) were randomly distributed across four instructional groups — VR and enactment, video and enactment, only VR, and only video. Outcome measures included declarative knowledge, procedural knowledge, knowledge transfer, and subjective ratings of perceived enjoyment. Results indicated that there were no main effects or interactions for the outcomes of declarative knowledge or transfer. However, there was a significant interaction between media and method for the outcome of procedural knowledge with the VR and enactment group having the highest performance. Furthermore, media also seemed to have a significant effect on student perceived enjoyment, indicating that the groups enjoyed the VR simulation significantly more than the video. The results deepen our understanding of how we learn with immersive technology, as well as suggest important implications for implementing VR in schools.
Andreasen N. K., Baceviciute S., Pande P., & Makransky G., (2019). Virtual Reality Instruction Followed by Enactment Can Increase Procedural Knowledge in a Science Lesson. 2019 IEEE Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces (VR), Osaka, Japan, 2019, pp. 840-841, doi: 10.1109/VR.2019.8797755.
Presence has become an increasingly central component of Games User Research (GUR) as developments in technology continuously make modern video games more conducive to the sensation of ‘being there’ in virtual environments. The quality of games is now commonly evaluated based on how reliably they elicit presence; however, no standardized objective measure of presence currently exists. This study investigated two physio- logical measures, Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) and task-irrelevant Event-Related Potentials (ERPs), as potential objective indicators of presence in games. A total of 34 participants were divided into low or high presence groups based on their self-reported presence evoked from experiencing a horror game while task-irrelevant tones were being played. It was hypothesized that presence is associated with attentional resources being fully ab- sorbed by the game, which would lead to less or insufficient perceptual resources available for processing the concurrent game-irrelevant oddball-task. This effect was expected to manifest as a measurable decrease in early ERP component amplitudes. It was also hypothesized that presence would make players react to emotion-eli- citing events as if they were real, which would result in more GSR peaks throughout the game while not im- pacting event response magnitude. ERP components (N1, MMN and SW), GSR peaks/min and response mag- nitude were compared between the presence groups revealing significant differences in GSR peaks/min and early ERP components of N1 and MMN, but not in GSR response magnitude. The findings support the hypotheses and show that GSR peaks/min, N1 and MMN correlate with presence and have potential as presence indicators.
Terkildsen, T., & Makransky, G. (2019). Measuring presence in video games: An investigation of the potential use of physiological measures as indicators of presence. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 126, 64-80.
Virtual reality (VR) is gaining attention for having the potential to enrich students’ educational experiences. However, few studies have investigated the process of learning with VR. With the use of structural equation modeling, this study investigated the affective and cognitive factors that play a role in learning with a desktop VR simulation when pre-to post-test changes in motivation, self-efficacy, and knowledge about genetics are used as outcomes. The sample consisted of 199 university students (120 females), who learned from a desktop VR genetics simulation as a mandatory part of an undergraduate medical genetics course. The results indicated that there were two general paths by which desktop VR led to increases in the amount of learning following a VR lesson: an affective path that went through VR features, presence, intrinsic motivation, and self-efficacy; and a cognitive path that went through VR features, usability, cognitive benefits, and self-efficacy. It is concluded that learners may benefit from desktop VR simulations in which efficacious VR features and a high level of usability are emphasized.
Makransky, G., Bog Petersen G. (2019). Investigating the process of learning with desktop virtual reality: A structural equation modeling approach. Computers & Education. 134, 15-30
The main objective of this study was to investigate the potential of combining subjective and objective measures of learning process to uncover the mechanisms underlying the spatial contiguity effect in multimedia learning. The subjective measures of learning process were self-reported cognitive load ratings and the objective measures were eye-tracking and EEG measures. Learning outcome was measured by scores on retention and transfer posttests. A sample of 78 university students participated in a between-subjects design in which a multimedia slideshow lesson on how lightning storms develop was presented either with printed text as a caption at the bottom of each illustration (separated presentation) or with printed text placed next to the corresponding part of each illustration (integrated presentation). Regarding spatial contiguity, the integrated group spent significantly more time looking at the text (d=0.64), but significantly less time looking at irrelevant illustrations (d=1.10), and reported a significantly lower level of extraneous load (d=0.57), compared to the separated group. As expected, they also scored significantly higher on the transfer test (d=0.49). Students who performed best on posttests reported a lower level of extraneous load (d=0.56). Furthermore, EEG based alpha band activity was predictive of intrinsic cognitive load but not predictive of extraneous cognitive load, and EEG based theta ac- tivity was not predictive of intrinsic or extraneous load. The results suggest that subjective and objective measures of cognitive load can provide different information to test the theoretical mechanisms involved in multimedia learning.
Makransky, G., Terkildsen, T. S., & Mayer, R. E. (2019). Role of subjective and objective measures of cognitive processing during learning in explaining the spatial contiguity effect. Learning and Instruction, 61, 23-34.
The main objective of this study is to determine whether boys and girls learn better when the characteristics of the pedagogical agent are matched to the gender of the learner while learning in immersive virtual reality. Sixty-six middle school students (33 females) were randomly assigned to learn about laboratory safety with one of two pedagogical agents: Marie or a drone, who we predicted serve as role models for females and males respectively. The results indicated that there were significant interactions for the dependent variables of performance during learning, retention, and transfer, with girls performing better with Marie (d = 0.98, d = 0.67, and d = 1.03; for performance, retention, and transfer respectively), and boys performing better with the drone (d = -0.41, d = -0.45, d = -0.23, respectively). The results suggest that gender specific design of pedagogical agents may play an important role in VR learning environments.
Makransky, G., Wismer, P., & Mayer, R. (2018). A Gender Matching Effect in Learning with Pedagogical Agents in an Immersive Virtual Reality Science Simulation. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning. 35. 10.1111/jcal.12335.
Virtual reality (VR) is projected to play an important role in education by increasing student engagement and motivation. However, little is known about the impact and utility of immersive VR for administering e-learning tools, or the underlying mechanisms that impact learners’ emotional processes while learning. This paper explores whether differences exist with regard to using either immersive or desktop VR to administer a virtual science learning simulation. We also investigate how the level of immersion impacts perceived learning outcomes using structural equation modeling. The sample consisted of 104 university students (39 females). Significantly higher scores were obtained on 11 of the 13 variables investigated using the immersive VR version of the simulation, with the largest differences occurring with regard to presence and motivation. Furthermore, we identified a model with two general paths by which immersion in VR impacts perceived learning outcomes. Specifically, we discovered an affective path in which immersion predicted presence and positive emotions, and a cognitive path in which immersion fostered a positive cognitive value of the task in line with the control value theory of achievement emotions.
Makransky, G., & Lilleholt, L. (2018). A structural equation modeling investigation of the emotional value of immersive virtual reality in education. Educational Technology Research and Development, 66(5), 1141-1164
Virtual reality (VR) is predicted to create a paradigm shift in education and training, but there is little empirical evidence of its educational value. The main objectives of this study were to determine the consequences of adding immersive VR to virtual learning simulations, and to investigate whether the principles of multimedia learning generalize to immersive VR. Furthermore, electroencephalogram (EEG) was used to obtain a direct measure of cognitive processing during learning. A sample of 52 university students participated in a 2 × 2 experimental cross-panel design wherein students learned from a science simulation via a desktop display (PC) or a head-mounted display (VR); and the simulations contained on-screen text or on-screen text with narration. Across both text versions, students reported being more present in the VR condition (d = 1.30); but they learned less (d = 0.80), and had significantly higher cognitive load based on the EEG measure (d = 0.59). In spite of its motivating properties (as reflected in presence ratings), learning science in VR may overload and distract the learner (as reflected in EEG measures of cognitive load), resulting in less opportunity to build learning outcomes (as reflected in poorer learning outcome test performance).
Makransky, G., Terkildsen, T. S., & Mayer, R. E. (2019). Adding immersive virtual reality to a science lab simulation causes more presence but less learning. Learning and Instruction, 60, 225-236.
The present study compared the value of using a virtual learning simulation compared to traditional lessons on the topic of evolution, and investigated if the virtual learning simulation could serve as a catalyst for STEM academic and career development, based on social cognitive career theory. The investigation was conducted using a crossover repeated measures design based on a sample of 128 high school biology/biotech students. The results showed that the virtual learning simulation increased knowledge of evolution significantly, compared to the traditional lesson. No significant differences between the simulation and lesson were found in their ability to increase the non-cognitive measures. Both interventions increased self-efficacy significantly, and none of them had a significant effect on motivation. In addition, the results showed that the simulation increased interest in biology related tasks, but not outcome expectations. The findings suggest that virtual learning simulations are at least as efficient in enhancing learning and self-efficacy as traditional lessons, and high schools can thus use them as supplementary educational methods. In addition, the findings indicate that virtual learning simulations may be a useful tool in enhancing student’s interest in and goals toward STEM related careers.
Thisgaard, M., & Makransky G., (2017). Virtual Learning Simulations in High School: Effects on Cognitive and Non-cognitive Outcomes and Implications on the Development of STEM Academic and Career Choice. 8(805). DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00805
Presence is one of the most important psychological constructs for understanding human-computer interaction. However, different terminology and operationalizations of presence across fields have plagued the comparability and generalizability of results across studies. Lee's (2004) unified understanding of presence as a multidimensional construct made up of physical, social, and self-presence, has created a unified theory of presence; nevertheless, there are still no psychometrically valid measurement instruments based on the theory. Two studies were conducted that describe the development of a standardized multidimensional measure of presence (the MPS) for a VR learning context based on this theory, and its validation using confirmatory factor analysis and item response theory. The results from Study 1 which included 161 medical students from Denmark indicated that the items used in the MPS measure a three dimensional theoretical model of presence: physical, social, and self-presence. Furthermore, IRT analyses indicated that it was possible to limit the number of items in the MPS to 15 (five items per sub-dimension) while maintaining the construct validity and reliability of the measure. The results of Study 2, which included 118 biology students from Scotland, supported the validity and generalizability of the MPS in a new context.
Makransky, G., Lilleholt, L., & Aaby A., (2017). Development and validation of the Multimodal Presence Scale for virtual reality environments: A confirmatory factor analysis and item response theory approach, Computers in Human Behavior, Volume 72, 2017, Pages 276-285, ISSN 0747-5632, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2017.02.066.
Simulation based learning environments are designed to improve the quality of medical education by allowing students to interact with patients, diagnostic laboratory procedures, and patient data in a virtual environment. However, few studies have evaluated whether simulation based learning environments increase students’ knowledge, intrinsic motivation, and self-efficacy, and help them generalize from laboratory analyses to clinical practice and health decision-making.
An entire class of 300 University of Copenhagen first-year undergraduate students, most with a major in medicine, received a 2-h training session in a simulation based learning environment. The main outcomes were pre- to post- changes in knowledge, intrinsic motivation, and self-efficacy, together with post-intervention evaluation of the effect of the simulation on student understanding of everyday clinical practice were demonstrated.
Knowledge (Cohen’s d = 0.73), intrinsic motivation (d = 0.24), and self-efficacy (d = 0.46) significantly increased from the pre- to post-test. Low knowledge students showed the greatest increases in knowledge (d = 3.35) and self-efficacy (d = 0.61), but a non-significant increase in intrinsic motivation (d = 0.22). The medium and high knowledge students showed significant increases in knowledge (d = 1.45 and 0.36, respectively), motivation (d = 0.22 and 0.31), and self-efficacy (d = 0.36 and 0.52, respectively). Additionally, 90 % of students reported a greater understanding of medical genetics, 82 % thought that medical genetics was more interesting, 93 % indicated that they were more interested and motivated, and had gained confidence by having experienced working on a case story that resembled the real working situation of a doctor, and 78 % indicated that they would feel more confident counseling a patient after the simulation.
The simulation based learning environment increased students’ learning, intrinsic motivation, and self-efficacy (although the strength of these effects differed depending on their pre-test knowledge), and increased the perceived relevance of medical educational activities. The results suggest that simulations can help future generations of doctors transfer new understanding of disease mechanisms gained in virtual laboratory settings into everyday clinical practice.
Makransky, G., Bonde, M.T., Wulff S.G. J., Wandall J., Hood M., Creed, A. P., Bache I., Silahtaroglu A., & Nørremølle A., (2016). Simulation based virtual learning environment in medical genetics counseling: an example of bridging the gap between theory and practice in medical education. BMC Med Educ 16, 98 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12909-016-0620-6
A large proportion of high school and college students indicate that they have little interest in science, and many students graduate with marginal science competencies It has been suggested that this results from an exaggerated focus on memorizing facts, listening passively to lectures and performing 'cookbook' laboratory exercises in science education, rather than stimulating students' natural curiosity, and highlighting the intricate connection between science and “real world problems”. Although several studies have challenged the effectiveness of traditional teaching methodsThese methods continue to dominate science education. This is not only problematic for students but is a major challenge for the biotech industry, which depends on highly educated graduates with up-to-date knowledge and skills.
A recent report published by the US National Research Council regarding the use of computer games and simulations in education analyzed all available studies and concluded that “simulations and games have great potential to improve science learning in elementary, secondary and undergraduate science classrooms”. Moreover, the US Department of Education's National Education Technology Plan states, “The challenge for our education system is to leverage the learning sciences and modern technology to create engaging, relevant and personalized learning experiences for all learners that mirror students' daily lives and the reality of their futures”.
Because laboratory experiments can be expensive, time consuming and occasionally constrained by safety concerns, laboratory courses as an adjunct to classroom lectures are often the first classes to be removed from a curriculum. This is unfortunate because several theoretical science courses benefit from an experimental counterpart. Particularly within biotech, new techniques and methods are constantly enhancing and replacing existing research practices, and these developments soon become essential knowledge for biotech professionals. Nevertheless, the latest equipment and consumables are often prohibitively expensive, making it almost impossible for universities and schools to provide students with access to updated equipment such as next-generation DNA sequencing machines.
In response to this need, several simulations have been developed for science education, most of which focus on symbolic representations of experiments wherein students can alter parameters and simulate different outcomes. De Jong et al. recently reviewed studies comparing physical and simulated laboratory education and concluded that both physical and virtual laboratories “can achieve similar objectives such as exploring the nature of science, developing teamwork abilities, cultivating interest in science, promoting conceptual understanding and developing inquiry skills.” Although physical laboratories are required for students to develop practical laboratory skills, virtual laboratories offer several other advantages, including allowing students to explore unobservable phenomena, enabling learners to conduct a number of experiments in a short period of time and providing adaptive guidance. However, most simulations are primarily focused on accurately imitating physical phenomena and not on optimizing student learning.
A recent literature review identified only a few studies that compared traditional classroom teaching with the use of simulations in biotech teaching between 2001 and 2010. One study reported an increase in students' usage of accurate explanations after using a bioinformatics simulation, and others reported a significant increase in test scores using a simulation based on cell theory. Similarly, a learning effect was demonstrated using the simulation MyDNA, a program that involves a two-dimensional representation of gel electrophoresis wherein students can alter voltage and gel concentrations and then observe the differential speed of DNA fragments.
Educational games are increasingly being used for learning biotech. Sadler et al. reported the implementation of a three-dimensional (3D) biotech educational game (Mission Biotech), wherein gaming features were highlighted. A high learning outcome, particularly with lower-level students, was observed. Research regarding the effectiveness of games for science education is only beginning to emerge, and to our knowledge no prior research studies performed to assess the effectiveness of gamified simulations for enhancing biotech education have included a scientific design with control groups.
We hypothesized that combining gamification elements with simulations may provide an opportunity for even greater gains in learning effectiveness and motivation of biotech students. We developed and tested an advanced laboratory simulation platform based on mathematical algorithms supporting open-ended investigations and combined this with gamification elements such as an immersive 3D universe, storytelling, conversations with fictional characters and a scoring system. We then set out to assess the effect on learning effectiveness and motivation to investigate whether gamified laboratory simulations may be an affordable opportunity for providing state-of-the-art training in biotech.
Bonde, M., Makransky, G., Wandall, J., Larsen V. M., Morsing M., Jarmer H., & Morten O. A. Sommer., (2014). Improving biotech education through gamified laboratory simulations. Nat Biotechnol 32, 694–697 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/nbt.2955