Virtual reality for geospatial education: immersive technologies enhance sense of embodiment

Mahda M. Bagher, Pejman Sajjadi, Jan Oliver Wallgrün, Peter LaFemina, Alexander Klippel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


This article focuses on the role of embodiment in learning spatial phenomena in virtual reality in the context of geospatial education. We conducted an empirical study on the geovisualization of global earthquake locations in immersive VR and desktop VR. We asked students to visualize cross-sections of the geometry of earthquake locations in subduction zones and answer pre- and post-experience questions. The degree of the sense of embodiment in immersive VR versus desktop VR was researched. We defined the sense of embodiment based on two embodied affordances: (1) embodied relative reference frame and (2) bodily engagement. We found that immersive VR has a significantly higher sense of embodiment than desktop VR. Additionally, students showed a significantly higher level of reflective thinking in immersive VR. In terms of learning performance, students significantly gained knowledge in both conditions when comparing their pre- and post-knowledge. However, we could not find any significant difference between immersive and desktop VR. The lower level of embodiment in desktop VR seemed sufficient to improve students’ grades. These results encourage more research studies on the effect of the sense of embodiment on learning in the geospatial and earth sciences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-248
Number of pages16
JournalCartography and Geographic Information Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Management of Technology and Innovation
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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