Virtual Reality (VR) holds great potential for psychomotor training, with existing applications using almost exclusively a ‘learning-by-doing’ active learning approach, despite the possible benefits of incorporating observational learning. We compared active learning (n=26) with different variations of observational learning in VR for a manual assembly task. For observational learning, we considered three levels of visual similarity between the demonstrator avatar and the user, dissimilar (n=25), minimally similar (n=26), or a self-avatar (n=25), as similarity has been shown to improve learning. Our results suggest observational learning can be effective in VR when combined with ‘hands-on’ practice and can lead to better far skill transfer to real-world contexts that differ from the training context. Furthermore, we found self-similarity in observational learning can be counterproductive when focusing on a manual task, and skills decay quickly without further training. We discuss these findings and derive design recommendations for future VR training.



Isabel Fitton, Elizabeth Dark, Mandela M. O. da Silva, Jeremy Dalton, Michael Proulx, Christopher Clarke, Christof Lutteroth


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