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Virtual Reality and Learners' Self-perception of Success

Listen and learn

Listen and learn : Research paper
Roundtable presentation

Wednesday, December 2, 2:15–3:00 pm PST (Pacific Standard Time)
Presentation 2 of 2
Other presentations:
Assessing Classroom Technology Use for 21st Century Skills: A Research-Based Rubric

Dr. Jason Trumble  
This research presentation will discuss an experiment where participants engaged in an immersive virtual reality experience and tested on their spatial rotation skills and perceptions of success. This presentation will share the findings and implications of preservice teacher's perceptions of success.

Audience: Teacher education/higher ed faculty
Attendee devices: Devices not needed
Topic: Augmented, mixed & virtual reality
Grade level: Community college/university
Subject area: Higher education, Preservice teacher education
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
  • Stay current with research that supports improved student learning outcomes, including findings from the learning sciences.
Additional detail: Session recorded for video-on-demand

Proposal summary


 Virtual Reality (VR) is a popular tool in many educational environments. College level engineering and graphic design classes have begun implementing interventions to support spatial learning (Carbonell-Carrera & Saorin, 2017; Molina-Carmona, Pertegal-Felices, Jimeno-Morenilla, & Mora-Mora, 2018). K-12 teachers use VR to engage students in learning and diversify their curriculum tools. The promise of VR in K-12 education is promoted in numerous articles and blogs (Kennedy, 2018; Korbey, 2017) and has become a popular topic for teacher practitioners. Research on the impact of VR on teaching and learning is in its infancy. Immersive VR applications allow learners to experience educational content in a new way that has not been easily accessible before. Recent research on learning and VR has focused on skill based training for adults (Friena & Ott, 2015; Jensen & Kondradsen, 2018) in both medical and engineering fields.
Spatial skills are an indicator of success in STEM fields (Wai, Lubisky, & Benbow, 2009). Although there are a variety of spatial skills and abilities, the success in spatial visualization and rotation has been shown to be both malleable (Trumble & Dailey, 2019) and effective for predicting success in STEM fields (Yoon, 2011). Molina-Carmona et al. (2018) investigated second year engineering students’ spatial visualization and rotation skills before and after a virtual reality experience. Their results indicated increased spatial visualization and rotation skills for participants who engaged in an immersive VR experience. One study investigating spatial orientation and a virtual reality intervention found that participants increase their navigation and environmental spatial orientation through training in an immersive VR environment (Carbonell-Carrera & Saorin, 2017).
Teacher perceptions also inform this study. It is widely accepted that effective teachers have a high sense of self efficacy (Nissim & Weissblueth, 2017). Weissblueth and Nissim (2018) discuss how VR in teacher education can increase creativity and support teachers’ development of social and emotional learning along with cross disciplinary awareness. It seems, therefore, that VR interventions can increase motivation and emotional learning.
This Similar to the Molina-Carmona et al. (2018) experiment, this study investigates the immediate effects of an immersive VR experience on preservice teachers’ spatial visualization rotation skills with the addition of participants’ perceptions of performance. We take a different approach as we consider both the immediate effects of an immersive VR experience on spatial skills but also participants’ self-perceptions. Additionally, we evaluate preservice teachers predictions and perceptions of using VR as a learning tool in classrooms.


This research study employed a pre/post design. Participants in this study (n=27) volunteered to engage in an immersive virtual reality experience using the Oculus Rift VR system. These participants were enrolled in a teacher education program at a regional university in the mid-south.
The instrument used to assess participants’ spatial visualization and mental rotation skills was a modified version of the Revised PSVT:R (Yoon, 2011). The Revised PSVT:R is structured so that each item increases in difficulty. To employ a pre-post design for this study, the instrument was modified and split. The pre-test included the odd items(1,3,5…), and the post-test included the even items (2,4.6…). The pretest included fifteen items and the post-administration included fifteen items to include all 30 items from the Revised PSVT:R. This structure was chosen after discussion with the author of the Revised PSVT:R. Both administrations of the assessment were performed digitally.
Along with the assessment of spatial visualization and rotation skills, participants were asked to rank their confidence for each question on the Revised PSVT:R. Additionally, demographic information was collected and recorded including age, gender, race, and preservice teacher program. The pre-test also collected information about participants frequency and interests in video games. The post-test collected participants' qualitative responses to their VR experience and their perceptions of how immersive virtual reality can be used in educational environments.
The virtual reality intervention was fifteen minutes long and included a short introduction to the tools and space of the Google Blocks program. After becoming comfortable with the tools each participant was asked to create a 3D self-portrait of using the creation tools in Google Blocks. The intervention lasted a total of 25 minutes.


The results of this study will be presented at the conference but are being analyzed at the time of submission. Initial data indicate that no skill change was observed as a result of the Virtual Reality experience, but participants self-perception of success increased.

Detailed results including demographic and qualitative responses will be presented in full.


This study adds to recent empirical research on the inclusion of virtual reality tools in educational contexts. Specifically, the results of this study contribute to the understanding of learner confidence and self-perception after manipulating and creating in an immersive virtual reality environment.


Carbonell-Carrera, C., & Saorin, J. L. (2017). Virtual learning environments to enhance spatial orientation. Eurasia J. Math. Sci. Technol. Educ, 14, 709-719.
Kennedy, E. (2018, Nov. 1) Can virtual reality revolutionize education? CNN. Retrieved from
Korbey, H. (2017, July 14) Will virtual reality drive deeper learning? Edutopia. Retrieved from
Molina-Carmona, R., Pertegal-Felices, M., Jimeno-Morenilla, A., & Mora-Mora, H. (2018). Virtual reality learning activities for multimedia students to enhance spatial ability. Sustainability, 10(4), 1074.
Nissim, Y., & Weissblueth, E. (2017). Virtual Reality (VR) as a Source for Self-Efficacy in Teacher Training. International Education Studies, 10(8), 52-59.
Trumble, J., & Dailey, D. (2019). Change in Spatial Visualization Mental Rotation Abilities of Intermediate Elementary Students. Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, 38(1), 77-90.
Uttal, D. H., Meadow, N. G., Tipton, E., Hand, L. L., Alden, A. R., Warren, C., & Newcombe, N. S. (2013). The malleability of spatial skills: A meta-analysis of training studies. Psychological Bulletin 139(2), 352-402. doi: 10.1037/a0028446
Wai, J., Lubinski, D., & Benbow, C. P. (2009). Spatial ability for STEM domains: Aligning over 50 years of cumulative psychological knowledge solidifies its importance. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101(4), 817.
Weissblueth, E., & Nissim, Y. (2018). The Contribution of Virtual Reality to Social and Emotional Learning in Pre-Service Teachers. Creative Education, 9(10), 1551.
Yoon, S. Y. (2011). Psychometric properties of the revised purdue spatial visualization tests: visualization of rotations (The Revised PSVT: R). Purdue University. Retrieved from

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Dr. Jason Trumble, University of Central Arkansas
ISTE Certified Educator

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