Conceptual Learning and Immersive Properties in Head-Mounted-Display Virtual Reality Simulations

Jonathon Skotny, Andrew Valentine, Ghulam Mubashar Hassan, Sally Male

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperConference paperpeer-review


Studies have demonstrated the efficacy of virtual reality (VR) simulations in supporting learning. One potential benefit is the immersion that the user may experience while engaging in a simulated task. This immersion can be enhanced by making use of a number of immersive properties of VR. The effects that immersive properties may have on learning have been explored by researchers. However, deficiencies in the literature may limit the ability of educational VR developers and practitioners to effectively use immersive properties when designing or using educational simulations.

We analysed participants' psychological responses to immersive properties in VR simulations to address gaps in the literature, further illuminating the relationship between immersive properties and learning. This study addresses the question 'What is the relationship between conceptual learning and the use of immersive properties in HMD VR simulations?'. Specifically, the study aimed to improve upon understanding of the positive and negative effects that specific immersive properties have: 1. on the affective and cognitive pathways of learning, 2. within the medium of head-mounted-display (HMD) VR, 3. within the context of engineering learning, 4. when using a lower-immersion simulation as a control.

A VR environment was developed in which participants used a virtual piping and instrumentation diagram to identify components within a 3-dimensional fluid system. Two versions of the simulation were created, differing only in their immersive properties. A workshop was held where 18 engineering students completed both versions of the simulated task and a subsequent qualitative evaluation survey based on their experience. Researcher notes were recorded during the workshop. The qualitative survey responses and workshop notes were analysed to examine the participants' psychological responses to the simulations.

When completing the higher-immersion simulation participants reported a comparatively higher level of self-efficacy and motivation, both of which have been positively related to learning in the literature.
Responses showed that immersive properties such as fidelity, audio cues, and context were found to have varying degrees of perceived benefit to the students' affective and cognitive pathways of learning. Some properties produced negative responses, potentially hindering participants' learning.
Most student responses supported the literature which suggests potential for a positive relationship between conceptual learning and the use of immersive properties in HMD VR simulations. Some student responses indicated the potential efficacy and inefficacy of specific properties in enhancing learning outcomes.

The findings of this study may be used by educational VR software developers and practitioners to help them make decisions about the inclusion of specific immersive properties within educational VR software, and for future research in this area.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the AAEE 2019 30th Annual Conference
PublisherThe University of Southern Queensland
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Event30th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education - Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre , Brisbane, Australia
Duration: 8 Dec 201911 Dec 2019


Conference30th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education
Abbreviated titleAAEE2019
Internet address


Dive into the research topics of 'Conceptual Learning and Immersive Properties in Head-Mounted-Display Virtual Reality Simulations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this