Educational Technology Research and Development

, Volume 66, Issue 5, pp 1141–1164 | Cite as

A structural equation modeling investigation of the emotional value of immersive virtual reality in education

  • Guido Makransky
  • Lau Lilleholt
Research Article


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.


Virtual reality Emotions Simulations Presence CVTAE Structural equation modeling 



We would like to thank Malene Thisgaard and Josefine Pilegaard Larsen for their extensive work related to collecting data for this study. We would also like to thank Ainara Lopez Cordoba and her team from Labster for their work related to preparing the two versions of the Crime Science Investigation Virtual Lab used in this study.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

There are no conflicts of interest to report related to this paper.


This study was funded by Innovation Fund Denmark.


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Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of CopenhagenCopenhagen KDenmark

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