Tola Sylvan ’17
This 2014 literature review summarizes the findings of multiple studies (69 total) on the impact of virtual reality use in classroom settings at the elementary, middle school, and college level. The paper addresses the limitations of previous studies while analyzing their results to inform suggestions on best design practices for desktop-based instructional VR.
Studies included in the review used games, simulation, or virtual worlds as part of the teaching method, and reported success through explicit measures of student work performance. All studies used a control group to compare the effectiveness of traditional teaching methods with the use of instructional VR. The type of learning (declarative or fact-based, and procedural or skill-based), type of learning feedback (response, explanation, or visual cue), and delay before performance testing were all taken into account in the authors’ meta-analysis. The authors also attempted to control for a potential novelty effect in studies, in which learning may be improved simply because students were inexperienced with VR use.
Overall, the literature review found that students who received VR instruction on top of traditional instruction outperformed students who received only traditional instruction. Students performed better if they worked individually, but the availability of teachers did not significantly impact performance for students learning in simulations or VR worlds. For declarative learning, feedback in the form of verbal explanation best impacted learning, whereas for procedural learning, demonstrations of the correct response in the task worked best to improve learning.
Across studies, game-based methods had an impact almost twice as large as virtual worlds or simulations without gamification. The authors concluded that time was a moderator in the effectiveness of learning methods. On top of incorporating game-based interaction, designers should always consider how much time a student would naturally spend exploring the environment they create.