On Learning in VR Laboratory Simulations

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesisResearch

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Artificial intelligence is increasingly competing with humans in the labor market. To avoid being left behind, employees must continuously reinvent themselves by learning new skills. However, science education still largely relies on traditional training approaches such as lectures and books, which fail to teach the hands-on competencies required by 21st-century jobs. Hence, educational games and virtual reality (VR) have been proposed as promising avenues for bridging this gap between theory and practice. This thesis discusses how VR could become a cost-effective training strategy for learning life science laboratory competencies. In a media comparison, it investigates the efficiency of VR training by comparing it to text-based and personal instruction. Results indicate that VR could eventually replace physical laboratory training in certain fields, for example, biopharmaceutical manufacturing. The thesis further investigates how instructional design can be tailored to the specific needs of trainees. Particularly, it addresses how to design gender-specific pedagogical agents that improve learning. Finally, the presented work discusses the use of in-game behavioral patterns to assess performance and expertise, which could render laborious post-tests unnecessary. Designing VR for learning is a multidimensional problem: Instructions must be adapted to the desired learning outcomes, the specific affordances of the VR medium, trainees’
personal characteristics, and their performance and affective states during gameplay. Understanding how these factors influence learning, and feeding them into intelligent tutoring systems will enable the personalization of educational games, promising optimal learning outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages92
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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