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Investigating Engagement and Flow with a Placed-Based Immersive Virtual Reality Game

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Abstract

An immersive virtual reality (iVR) game for high school students to learn about locations in their watershed with a primary focus on their city was designed and developed, employing a design model that focuses on flow. An exploratory study with the iVR game was conducted in an urban school in the eastern USA with 57 adolescents ages 16–18 from a population that is economically disadvantaged and includes students who are typically unengaged in traditional school-based learning environments. After game completion, the participants completed a 10-item survey measuring elements of flow and a 12-item survey designed to measure perceptions toward learning with VR games, immersion and presence. Participant focus groups were conducted with an emphasis on features that promoted engagement, learning, immersion, and presence. The findings revealed that all students experienced a flow state when they played the iVR learning game. Almost all users (98.1%) had positive attitudes towards using the iVR game. Students experienced high immersion and presence. In addition, students had favorable attitudes towards learning with iVR games in school environments.

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Correspondence to Alec Bodzin.

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Appendix. Focus group questions

Appendix. Focus group questions

  1. 1

    What did you like best about learning with the VR game?

- If “everything,” prompt: tell us one thing that you really enjoyed.

  1. 2.

    What did you not like about learning with the VR game?

- If nothing, “can you tell us one thing that you did not enjoy with the VR experience.”

  1. 3.

    What features of the VR learning game made you feel engaged or immersed in the experience?

- If “everything,” tell us one thing specifically that made you feel like you were there?

  1. 4.

    How can VR games help you to learn?

  2. 5

    Which features of the VR learning held your attention?

  3. 6

    How did your experience with VR compare to typical school activities?

  4. 7

    What do you now know about the geography of the Lehigh Valley that you did not know before?

  5. 8

    What did you now know about your city that you did not know before?

  6. 9

    Think about some of the science and social studies topics you learned about in school this year. Which topics do you think would be more interesting to learn with VR?

Which other school disciplines would you enjoy learning with VR?

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Bodzin, A., Junior, R.A., Hammond, T. et al. Investigating Engagement and Flow with a Placed-Based Immersive Virtual Reality Game. J Sci Educ Technol 30, 347–360 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10956-020-09870-4

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