The virtual field trip: Investigating how to optimize immersive virtual learning in climate change education

British Journal of Educational Technology (2020)

Authors:
Petersen, G.B., Klingenberg, S., Mayer, R.E. and Makransky, G.

Abstract:
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.

Full citation:
Petersen, G.B., Klingenberg, S., Mayer, R.E. and 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