A Case Study - The Impact of VR on Academic Performance, published jointly by the Beijing Bluefocus E-Commerce Co. and the Beijing iBokan Wisdom Mobile Internet Technology Training Institutions offers some promising, although limited, insight into the use of VR in education.
The experiment sought to show the difference between traditional teaching and VR-based teaching in astrophysics, along with impact upon student learning.
The authors explain that, in astrophysics, students cannot really “conduct experiments” like they would in other classes. “Students can only try to understand it through their imagination and teacher’s explanation.” The study assumes that VR-based teaching is “vivid and interactive,” making it entirely possible for students to understand abstract concepts “in a three-dimensional way; conduct simulated operations; and let students experience the scenarios at different cosmic velocity.”
Another assumption was that VR would support both theoretical knowledge as well as practical skills training by providing an immersive learning experience, enhancing students' sense of active involvement in class, and simply making learning more fun. The authors kvetched: “Most students lack interest in boring teaching and learning.” Enter virtual reality.
The study was conducted at two full-time high schools in Beijing, with equal numbers of male and female students. They represented from A to C students in their normal classroom performance. The students were divided into groups for this study: one group adopted VR-based instruction (defined as thirty minutes of VR-based teaching), while the other group approached the content from a traditional teaching perspective (defined as thirty minutes of lecture and PowerPoint). The same teacher was employed in all groups to avoid any experiment deviation caused by the professional difference among teachers. Immediate post-tests were then administered after the teaching to contrast both the academic performance and learning efficiency between the two groups. A second test was administered two weeks later to see if new knowledge was retained. Three HTC Vive virtual reality headsets were used in this study.
See next week's post for the surprising conclusions...