A Formative Evaluation on a Virtual Reality Game-Based Learning System for Teaching Introductory Archaeology
Abstract: Virtual reality (VR) holds great potential for instructional and educational purposes as it is capable of immersing learners cognitively, physiologically, and emotionally by transcending physical limitations and boundaries, so learners can acquire experiences otherwise unattainable. A case in point is a VR learning environment that allows archaeology instructors to teach a variety of concepts and skills on archaeological fieldwork without bringing students to actual archaeological sites. A VR environment would also enable students to practice newly acquired skills in a safer and more affordable space than physically visiting the sites. VR alone, however, is insufficient to engage learners. Therefore, we identify game-based learning strategies to guide the development of the VR archaeology environment by incorporating game structure, game involvement, and game appeal into the design. The presentation reports an NSF-funded project that utilizes the HTC Vive VR system to host a game-based learning environment for teaching introductory archaeology classes in a US Midwestern university. The manuscript reports the design, development, and formative evaluation of the VR archaeology game grounded in learners’ motivational and cognitive processes. In particular, the formative evaluation findings, based on 40 participants' responses, reveal various design opportunities and challenges for designing game-based learning experience in virtual reality environments.