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The virtual playground: an educational virtual reality environment for evaluating interactivity and conceptual learning

Roussou, Maria and Oliver, Martin and Slater, Mel (2006) The virtual playground: an educational virtual reality environment for evaluating interactivity and conceptual learning. Virtual Reality, 10. pp. 227-240. ISSN 1434-9957. DOI UNSPECIFIED

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The research presented in this paper aims at investigating user interaction in immersive virtual learning environments (VLEs), focusing on the role and the effect of interactivity on conceptual learning. The goal has been to examine if the learning of young users improves through interacting in (i.e. exploring, reacting to, and acting upon) an immersive virtual environment (VE) compared to non interactive or non-immersive environments. Empirical work was carried out with more than 55 primary school students between the ages of 8 and 12, in different between-group experiments: an exploratory study, a pilot study, and a large-scale experiment. The latter was conducted in a virtual environment designed to simulate a playground. In this ‘Virtual Playground’, each participant was asked to complete a set of tasks designed to address arithmetical ‘fractions’ problems. Three different conditions, two experimental virtual reality (VR) conditions and a non-VR condition, that varied the levels of activity and interactivity, were designed to evaluate how children accomplish the various tasks. Pre-tests, post-tests, interviews, video, audio, and log files were collected for each participant, and analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively. This paper presents a selection of case studies extracted from the qualitative analysis, which illustrate the variety of approaches taken by children in the VEs in response to visual cues and system feedback. Results suggest that the fully interactive VE aided children in problem solving but did not provide as strong evidence of conceptual change as expected; rather, it was the passive VR environment, where activity was guided by a virtual robot, that seemed to support student reflection and recall, leading to indications of conceptual change.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The original publication is available at
Controlled Keywords: Virtual learning environments, Interactivity, Conceptual , Learning, Evaluation
Depositing User: IOE Repository Editor (2)
Date Deposited: 31 Jul 2009 15:19
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2015 08:55
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