Immersing learners in stories: A systematic literature review of educational narratives in virtual reality

James Calvert, Margee Hume

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this study, via a systematic review, was to investigate the addition of narratives in immersive virtual reality (IVR) and the associated impacts on learning. Narratives in IVR put the learner in the story, which, until recent developments in IVR head-mounted display technology, was out of reach in most classrooms. The review found that added immersion afforded by VR is particularly important in relation to learning where situational context is desirable. Importantly, IVR experiences with a narrative may have the potential to increase affective outcomes for learners, without reducing cognitive gains. Additionally, data concerning learning theories and design methodologies was extracted from the studies. The systematic review yielded 12 relevant and applied papers with this demonstrating there are still significant gaps in the research concerning the impact on learning in narrative IVR. This review highlights that the inclusion of narratives in educational IVR offers many potential benefits, however is yet to be fully explored. There are endless opportunities to tell stories in IVR. How they can be used and their impact on education is a rich ground for further research and development. Implications for practice or policy • Educators and VR developers should consider including a narrative in an educational IVR experience because of the potential to increase affective outcomes such as motivation and engagement, without reducing cognitive gains. • Learners can benefit from educational IVR experiences with narratives because they can provide situational context, elicit an emotional response and scaffold complex learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-61
Number of pages17
JournalAustralasian Journal of Educational Technology
Issue number5
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Education
  • Immersive
  • Narrative
  • Review
  • Virtual reality


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