Awe yields learning: A virtual reality study

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There is a considerable amount of literature on the role of immersion and presence in virtual reality learning environments. Far less is known about the interaction of immersion and presence with the important individual characteristics that influence learning behavior, particularly, dispositional awe. Dispositional awe is manifested by an emotional response to information that defies existing mental schemas in a given domain and by a need to accommodate this experience. In a virtual reality study with eight elementary school classes, we investigated the interaction of immersive tendencies with dispositional awe and compassion on learning gains in the domain of nature conservation. We tested this interaction using a novel virtual reality concept in which children are sent to virtually simulated space to experience the overview effect, a cognitive shift in awareness reported by astronauts. The findings of the study showed that participants experienced strong feelings of awe and scored highly on overview effect constructs. Importantly, their learning gains were influenced by the overview effect which was, in turn, supported by presence, dispositional awe, and compassion. This study shows the potential of using immersive virtual reality experiences in educational programs, combining wonder and learning.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2020
EventCogSci 2020 -
Duration: 30 Jul 20201 Aug 2020


ConferenceCogSci 2020


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