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

Abstract

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.

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Acknowledgements

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.

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Correspondence to Guido Makransky.

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

Funding

This study was funded by Innovation Fund Denmark.

Appendix

Appendix

Questionnaire items and sources

Construct Items CFA loadings Source
Representational fidelity The realism of the 3-D images motivates me to learn 0.88 Lee et al. (2010)
The 3-D images make learning more interesting 0.92
The realism of the 3-D helps enhance my understanding 0.84
Immediacy of control The ability to change the view position of the 3-D objects allows me to learn better 0.80 Lee et al. (2010)
The ability to change the view position of the 3-D objects makes learning more motivating and interesting 0.87
The ability to manipulate the objects (e.g.: pick up, cut, change the size) within the virtual environment makes learning more motivating and interesting 0.80
The ability to manipulate the objects in real time helps to enhance my understanding 0.87
Perceived usefulness Using this type of virtual reality /computer simulation as a tool for learning will increase my learning and academic performance 0.89 Davis (1989)
Using this type of virtual reality/computer simulation will enhance the effectiveness on my learning 0.88
This type of virtual reality/computer simulation will allow mc to progress at my own pace 0.77
This type of virtual reality/computer simulation is useful in supporting my learning 0.92
Perceived case of use Learning to operate this type of virtual reality/computer program is easy for mc 0.88 Davis (1989)
Learning how to use this type of virtual reality/computer program is too complicated and difficult for mc. (R) 0.82
It is easy for mc to find information with the virtual reality/computer program 0.72
Overall, I think this type of virtual reality/computer program is easy to use 1.03
Motivation I enjoy working with the Labster virtual laboratory case very much 0.89 Lee et al. (2010)
Virtual laboratory activities are fun to do 0.88
The virtual laboratory was boring 0.87
The virtual laboratory did not hold my attention at all (R) 0.84
I would describe virtual laboratories as very interesting 0.90
I thought that the virtual laboratory was quite enjoyable 0.91
While I was doing the virtual laboratory I was thinking about how much I enjoyed it 0.77
Perceived enjoyment I find using virtual reality/computer simulations enjoyable 0.97 Tokel and Isler (2015)
Using virtual reality/computer simulations is pleasant 0.82
I have fun using virtual reality/computer simulations 0.95
Cognitive benefits This type of virtual reality /computer program makes the comprehension easier 0.79 Lee et al. (2010)
This type of virtual reality/computer program makes the memorization easier 0.65
This type of virtual reality/computer program helps me to better apply what was learned 0.81
This type of virtual reality/computer program helps me to better analyze the problems 0.77
Control and active learning This type of virtual reality/computer program helps me to have a better overview of the content learned 0.81 Lee et al. (2010)
This type of virtual reality/computer program allows me to be more responsive and active in the learning process 0.67
This type of virtual reality/computer program allows me to have more control over my own learning 0.69
This type of virtual reality/computer program promotes self-paced learning 0.95
This type of virtual reality/computer program helps to get me engaged in the learning activity 0.75
Reflective thinking Virtual reality/computer simulations enable me to reflect on how I learn 0.50 Lee et al. (2010)
Virtual reality/computer simulations enable me to link new knowledge with previous knowledge and experiences 0.73
Virtual reality/computer simulations enable me to become a better learner 0.91
Virtual reality/computer simulations enable me to reflect on my own understanding 0.75
Presence My interaction with the simulation environment seemed natural 0.81 Sutcliffe et al. (2005)
I was aware of events occurring in the real world around me while using the simulation 0.17
I was aware of the display and control devices − 0.11
My experiences in the virtual environment seemed consistent with real world experiences 0.63
My sense of moving around in the virtual environment was compelling 0.77
I was involved in the virtual environment experience 0.76
I adjusted quickly to the virtual environment experience 0.71
I felt proficient in moving and interacting with the virtual environment at the end of the experience 0.70
I was involved in the experimental task to the extent that I lost track of time 0.63
My sense of perspective (depth of field) was efficient 0.66
Perceived learning I was more interested to learn the topics 0.77 Lee et al. (2010)
I learned a lot of factual information in the topics 0.55
I gained a good understanding of the basic concepts of the materials 0.78
I learned to identify the main and important issues of the topics 0.71
I was interested and stimulated to learn more 0.89
I was able to summarize and concluded what I learned 0.62
The learning activities were meaningful 0.84
What I learned, I can apply in real context 0.68
Satisfaction I was satisfied with this type of virtual reality/computer-based learning experience 0.85 Lee et al. (2010)
A wide variety of learning materials was provided in this type of virtual reality/computer-based learning environment 0.49
I don’t think this type of virtual reality/computer-based learning environment would benefit my learning achievement. (R) 0.78
I was satisfied with the immediate information gained in this type of virtual reality/computer-based learning environment 0.59
I was satisfied with the teaching methods in this type of virtual reality/computer-based learning environment 0.76
I was satisfied with this type of virtual reality/computer-based learning environment 0.88
I was satisfied with the overall learning effectiveness 0.88
Behavioral intention to use I intend to use virtual reality/computer simulations, assuming I had access to them for a relevant subject 0.82 Tokel and Isler (2015)
I would use virtual reality/computer simulations frequently in the future 0.80
I would like to participate in educational activities that use virtual reality/computer simulations 0.91
I would study more if I had access to virtual reality/computer simulations in my field of study 0.72
  1. (R) reverse coded; all items used in this study were measured on a five-point Likert scale ranging from (1) strongly disagree to (5) strongly agree

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Makransky, G., Lilleholt, L. A structural equation modeling investigation of the emotional value of immersive virtual reality in education. Education Tech Research Dev 66, 1141–1164 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11423-018-9581-2

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Keywords

  • Virtual reality
  • Emotions
  • Simulations
  • Presence
  • CVTAE
  • Structural equation modeling