Learner experience and motivational beliefs for a VR Lab in advanced undergraduate biology


Recently, interest in understanding the prospects of virtual environments, specifically virtual reality laboratories (VR Lab) – those that involve a first-person practica experience via a desktop computer or head-mounted display – in science education has increased. Seemingly ingrained in the process of implementing a VR Lab is a supposition of interest, intrinsic motivation, and confidence on the part of participants. These attributes influence the participant’s ability to start and complete the task and support sensemaking and meaningful learning. Thus, this study used expectancy-value theory with the intent of learning experience design to assess the relationship between task value beliefs and those for usability of a VR Lab. Beliefs were also compared to those for physical laboratories, where only a higher cost for the VR Lab was found. Increased cost beliefs suggest that participants perceived the VR Lab as requiring more from them, a negative consequence, which would decrease their potential for seeing it as a viable learning alternative. This finding suggests that a student’s level of content knowledge may influence thier VR Lab experience. Cost belief was significantly related to utility value, giving credence to the theoretical model where cost is a value component. The VR Lab was determined to be marginally usable, but usability was not related to any motivational beliefs.


Shalaunda M. Reeves
University of Tennessee Knoxville

Charlotte A. Bolch
Midwestern University

Richard T. Bex II
Illinois State University

Kent J. Crippen
University of Florida