Staff profiles

Project lead
Dr Miriam Sullivan
Science Communication, School of Animal Biology
Team member
Kate Vyvyan

Project outline

This project aims to determine if using virtual reality (VR) increases student involvement and learning by creating an experiential learning game for multiple small groups within tutorials. In addition to developing a method of teaching teamwork, communication and critical thinking that utilises potentially disruptive technology that can be applied to many disciplines.

The project will do this by locating (or creating) a VR scenario that runs on Google cardboard VR (smart phone inside cardboard headset and placed on head creates a VR experience for wearer). It is the most affordable and basic version of VR currently available but suitably immersive for this purpose. A scenario will be written based on a learning game for student teams incorporating the use of the VR experience and conducted in tutorial sessions with over 600 students.

In this experiential learning game, groups of students have a task of a pressing nature to complete within a timeframe which will employ problem solving, critical thinking and communication in teams. Each student in the group has different information to contribute to the task whilst one student is using mobile virtual reality (google cardboard) so they are immersed in a virtual world not seen by the rest of the group and can only communicate with the others by verbal communication. The tutorial includes, post-game analysis, discussion and re-play. Opening up opportunities for innovative teaching in critical skill areas, increased student engagement and developing technology skills for forward looking research and learning.

Project findings

The project was a success in that the team was able to roll out a customised virtual reality experience to a large number of students. The original objectives were met; locate (or create) a VR scenario that runs on Google cardboard VR , write a scenario based learning game for teams incorporating the use of the VR experience, run a teamwork activity in SCOM 1101 tutorials with over 600 students (actual amount was less) and analyse student engagement and learning with the experience. The project research found that a VR activity on teamwork did not seem to perform better than an equivalent paper-based activity. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the students’ skills in teamwork were not improved by the activity, but it is consistent with other research that suggests students dislike teamwork even when they have positive experiences working in teams. However, it would be worth conducting more research into the use of VR to determine if it is worthwhile in other teaching areas not relating to group work.


  • A paper has been accepted for a special issue on ‘Future of the STEAM classroom' with the International Journal of Innovation in Science and Maths Education.
  • Presentation at the Teaching & Learning Forum, Curtin University, Perth 2016 .
  • Ran an innovation workshop on the VR app at the Australian Conference on Science and Maths Education, Brisbane 2016
  •  Article published by the International Journal of Innovation in Science & Mathematics. Read here:

Further reading/links

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