Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Perspective-based learning in virtual environments
by Lindgren, Robb, Ph.D., Stanford University, 2009, 155; 3364505
Abstract (Summary)

An extensive research literature in education and psychology demonstrates positive effects of perspective-taking on various forms of learning. Until recently, perspective-taking has been limited to the mental simulation of how someone with different beliefs, knowledge, physical location, etc., perceives an object or event. Over the last decade tremendous advances have been made in the development of new media technologies capable of conveying rich perceptual experiences that are realistic and highly engaging. These technologies, which include video games, virtual environments, digital video and simulations, present opportunities for a new and more literal form of perspective-taking—the ability to actually experience events the way they are experienced by another person. Following a review of the literature on perspective-taking and learning, a preliminary study is described that examines the extent to which people can learn from an embodied expert perspective on an event captured with a head-mounted digital video camera. Results of this study showed a significant effect of viewing the video recorded from the head camera compared to a standard tripod-mounted camera on two different learning assessments. In an attempt to extend this finding on perspective-taking and learning to more interactive platforms, a second study was conducted that looked at whether having an expert perspective on tasks performed in a virtual environment (VE) produced a similar learning benefit. Existing research on learning in VEs is presented followed by a description of the study design and procedures. Participants watched a video of an expert using a VE training simulation that was recorded either from the expert's first-person perspective or from a disembodied, third-person perspective. All participants then used the simulation themselves before completing a series of learning assessments. Results showed that the opportunity to view the simulation events from the embodied perspective of the expert resulted in higher learning outcomes as measured by in-simulation performance, a free-recall activity, and a diagramming task. Arousal measures that were collected while the participants watched the video showed that receiving the expert perspective was more arousing than viewing the same events from the third-person perspective. It is suggested that an embodied expert perspective cultivates a more action-oriented mental model of the simulation environment that more readily supports retrieval of the task-relevant knowledge probed for in the learning assessments. The dissertation concludes with a description of five specific contributions: (1) A reformulation of the research literature on learning and perspective-taking, (2) Demonstrations of technology-facilitated perspective-taking that improve learning, (3) Evidence-based design principles for virtual environments used in education and training, (4) A novel approach to using hand-drawn diagrams to assess learning, and (5) Showing higher physiological arousal in people viewing embodied expert perspectives compared to traditional perspectives used in instruction.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Schwartz, Daniel L.
School: Stanford University
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 70/07, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational psychology, Cognitive psychology, Educational technology
Keywords: Diagrams, Digital video, Expertise, Learning, Perspective-taking, Virtual environments
Publication Number: 3364505
ISBN: 9781109242959
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