Virtual reality and its role in improving student knowledge, self-efficacy, and attitude in the materials testing laboratory

Arun R. Srinivasa*, Rajesh Jha, Tanil Ozkan, Zhujiang Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The aim of this work is to evaluate the efficacy of using virtual reality to develop training modules for students who are participating in mechanical engineering laboratory classes. We investigated the feasibility of applying virtual reality and augmented reality technologies in manufacturing and material testing training programs to increase academic achievement, engagement, attitudes and self-efficacy toward engineering and also in fostering more effective use of expensive lab-equipment. We hypothesized that providing students with virtual reality and augmented reality enabled personalized manufacturing labs would increase students’ engagement and learning in this laboratory course. To validate the prototype and test our hypotheses, we conducted pilot testing at Texas A&M University. The total number of students with complete data analyzed for this study was 118. A two-group, randomized control group experiment was conducted. No significant differences were found for pre-existing factors including pretest and demographic factors. Five measures were administered to participants including subject matter measures and survey measures relating to attitudes, self-efficacy, engagement, and background demographics. Results of the pilot test data suggest an overall positive outcome for students participating in the virtual reality activity first (experimental condition) compared to those who performed physical machine activity first (control condition). Students who participated in the virtual reality activity first scored significantly higher on multiple-choice subject matter midtest scores. Analysis of open-ended subject matter responses indicates significantly higher gains for participants in the virtual reality activity compared to the physical activity. Subgroup analysis indicated a different performance pattern for female participants. Specifically, when pretest to midtest gain scores were analyzed, females in the experimental group gained twice as much over males after the virtual reality activity. Action data also revealed that female participants spent more time in the tutorial.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)382-409
Number of pages28
JournalInternational Journal of Mechanical Engineering Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Virtual reality
  • materials testing laboratory
  • self-efficacy


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