Utilising Event Cognition Principles to Explore the Effects of Location Change on Memory Within Immersive Virtual Environments
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The thesis covers a series of studies that explore and investigate the application of event cognition theory to the design of virtual reality (VR) spaces for improved memory recall. The thesis starts with a usability study of a recovery position VR training app developed within the University of Plymouth (Watson 2018, 2021). This work compares the recall and satisfaction of using this application across mobile VR, desktop displays, and pre-recorded video.
Based on the first prototype the question then posed is:
“Can we better design immersive virtual training spaces that support cognitive processes that might aid learning.”
Although enhancing memory does not necessarily equate to more learning, recall of information is an important step in many approaches to education and training. Previous real world event cognition work has observed an increase in recall when separating information between rooms, compared to having the same information delivered within a single room (Pettijohn, 2016). This enhancement comes without any specified strategy from the subjects. Segmenting information between VR rooms might also observe similar memory benefits. VR allows complete control over the visual and audio feed to the user, the narrative of events, and affords spatial understanding similar to the real world.
Across a further three studies, the thesis explores if recall can be improved by separating information between two immersive virtual rooms: In study 1, using a repeated measures design, subjects are exposed to two word lists within one VR room or between VR two rooms (Watson, 2021). In study 2, using a repeated measures design, subjects are exposed to two word lists within one room or between two rooms. However, both of these conditions are performed in both the real world and the immersive VR world.In study 3, using a repeated measures design, subjects are exposed to two word lists within one room or between two rooms. However, this study also controls for variation of the local and global scene upon word lists delivery. For example whether or not the word lists are delivered with the same voice and aesthetic, or variation within these characteristics. Based on our incremental study design, this work observes no significant benefit for segmenting wordlists between immersive virtual rooms for the population sample presented. To support these studies, a virtual reality tool is developed and refined to teach interaction and navigation paradigms, experimental procedures, and facilitate a realistic cognitive simulation of room environments through believable and distinct aesthetics. Post experiment surveys suggest that the virtual reality tool if fit for purpose as a tutorial tool and to deliver the virtual experimental conditions.