Experiential Learning Styles in the Age of a Virtual Surrogate

Rui Wang, Sidney Newton, Russell Lowe


There is a long-held sense in general that the increasing use of computers and digital technology changes how a user experiences and learns about the world, not always for the better. This paper reports on a longitudinal study of 245 architecture and construction students over a two year period which examines the impact that virtual reality technologies have on the learning style preferences of students. A series of controlled experiments tests for the impact that increasing exposure to a proprietary virtual reality system has on the mode of learning and learning style preferences of individuals and particular cohorts. The results confirm that when virtual reality applications are used in teaching and learning, the learning behaviours will favour a more concrete experiential mode of learning and a preference for the Accommodator learning style. However, the results also demonstrate, consistently and for the first time, individual students do not privilege any particular mode of learning or learning style preference to any significant extent but rather engage in all modes and represent all learning styles. Novel visualisation techniques are introduced to examine and discuss this contrast.


Virtual reality; experiential learning model; learning style inventory

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