A Study That (Maybe) Justifies Using VR for Training

Earlier this year I wrote a blog post (here) questioning the value proposition of using VR for training. I DID NOT argue that VR was not effective; what I did argue was that I have yet to find a study that shows that VR is MORE effective than traditional, less expensive, forms of training — and that without such evidence I questioned why you would spend the extra money (other than the cool factor).

I did acknowledge that VR does justify itself in situations where other forms of training would be dangerous, very expensive, impractical to simulate or remote.  But so many of the VR “studies” I’ve seen are of the variety: “We trained them and they learned.” To which I respond: “Yes, so what? Students will learn if you use pretty much ANY form of training. Show me a study where there is a control group to compare against.” Recently, I found one such study. It seems to indicate that VR is superior to at least one other form of training (at least in this one case).

In this study:

VR Study Oct 31

99 biology students were divided into three groups for study purposes:

  • Group 1 studied using VR
  • Group 2 watched a video
  • Group 3 studied from a textbook

All three groups were given a pre-test, assigned to the study material and then given a post-test. Here are the results:

VR OCt 31 Results

One feature of the study that I found interesting is that the researchers categorized the exam questions by Bloom’s Taxonomy, so they were able to see if there were differential effects of each study method based upon Bloom’s level. The results at both Bloom’s levels were mixed. VR was statistically significantly superior to video, but not textbook in both cases. It’s not clear to me why textbook was better than video, but it was.

So, this is one study that does show an advantage of VR over straight video. It will take a lot more than one study to convince me that VR is worth the extra money, but I am willing to reconsider, so please forward other studies to me if you know of any.

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