Our research focuses on incorporating narrative immersive virtual reality (IVR) into a classroom setting and assessing its impact when used as pre-training material before a multimedia lesson. Narrative experiences in IVR can be highly informative and affecting; however, our understanding of the educational impact of narratives in IVR is rudimentary. To address this, our study examines the cognitive and affective benefits of utilising a narrative-based IVR experience titled Thin Ice VR, as pre-training for students studying polar history and climate change. To further enhance our understanding of the relationships between IVR design and learning outcomes, key design elements of the narrative IVR experience used in the study are described. A between-groups experiments was conducted with 139 high school students to determine if those that viewed narrative IVR before continuing their learning with multimedia materials would show increased knowledge transfer (achieving a better understanding of the material presented), knowledge acquisition (new knowledge added to memory), engagement, motivation and emotional reaction. Results showed a significant increase in knowledge transfer when narrative IVR was used as pre-training material. However, using narrative IVR as pre-training had minimal impact on knowledge acquisition, engagement and motivation. Afforded by the sense of presence in IVR, the immersive narrative experience was heightened and able to elicit an emotional reaction. Utilising the sense of presence in IVR to place students in the narrative positions IVR as an effective medium for telling stories in classroom settings. When students use narrative IVR before further study, the experience significantly benefits both cognitive and affective learning outcomes.
- Virtual reality