Imagine & immerse yourself: Does visuospatial imagery moderate learning in virtual reality?

Christian Hartmann, Younes Orli-Idrissi, Laura Claudia Johanna Pflieger, Maria Bannert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Findings on the effectiveness of learning in immersive virtual reality (IVR) are mixed. While studies suggest that the sense of spatial presence in IVR enhances enjoyment and thus learning, it is unclear whether IVR also presents information in a way that is more conducive to learning than less immersive presentations. Because IVR presents spatial details more accurately than less immersive media, in addition to motivational effects, IVR presentations should promote the acquisition of spatial and (aurally presented) semantic knowledge. Research also suggests that the effects of IVR presentation on spatial presence, enjoyment, and learning may be offset by visuospatial imagery skills. We tested these assumptions by conducting a randomized laboratory experiment with two conditions in which a virtual learning environment was presented using either IVR technology or less immersive desktop VR. Results show that IVR did not provide superior support the acquisition of spatial and semantic knowledge, and this was not moderated by visuospatial imagery. However, spatial presence mediated the acquisition of semantic knowledge through enjoyment in both conditions, and this effect was moderated by learners' level of imagery: IVR's advantages over desktop VR in promoting spatial presence, enjoyment, and semantic knowledge diminished as learners' visuospatial imagery increased.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104909
JournalComputers and Education
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Augmented and virtual reality
  • Games
  • Media
  • Media in education
  • Simulations


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