Evaluating the Effects of Virtual Human Animation on Students in an Immersive VR Classroom Using Eye Movements.


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Virtual humans presented in VR learning environments have been suggested in previous research to increase immersion and further positively influence learning outcomes. However, how virtual human animations affect students' real-time behavior during VR learning has not yet been investigated. This work examines the effects of social animations (i.e., hand raising of virtual peer learners) on students' cognitive response and visual attention behavior during immersion in a VR classroom based on eye movement analysis. Our results show that animated peers that are designed to enhance immersion and provide companionship and social information elicit different responses in students (i.e., cognitive, visual attention, and visual search responses), as reflected in various eye movement metrics such as pupil diameter, fixations, saccades, and dwell times. Furthermore, our results show that the effects of animations on students differ significantly between conditions (20%, 35%, 65%, and 80% of virtual peer learners raising their hands). Our research provides a methodological foundation for investigating the effects of avatar animations on users, further suggesting that such effects should be considered by developers when implementing animated virtual humans in VR. Our findings have important implications for future works on the design of more effective, immersive, and authentic VR environments.
immersive virtual reality, virtual human animation, eye-tracking, visual attention, education
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