Effectiveness of virtual learning experiences in collaborative learning: A pilot study

Nicolette S. Birbara, Nalini Pather

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


INTRODUCTION: Literature has suggested that virtual environments and virtual learning resources (VLRs) promote collaboration. This study aimed to investigate whether face-to-face collaborative learning is more effective using VLRs compared with traditional resources for anatomy education. MATERIALS AND METHODS: An interactive desktop virtual heart tutorial was developed using Unity®. Participants with and without previous anatomy knowledge were recruited to compare the virtual tutorial to a traditional laboratory-based activity. Knowledge acquisition was measured through pretest and post-test, and participants’ perceptions were surveyed. RESULTS: A total of 132 participants took part in this study. There was no significant difference in knowledge acquisition between virtual and traditional activities (P = 0.659), although this was higher for the traditional activity overall. For participants who achieved a positive knowledge change, the percentage of new knowledge retained was higher for the virtual activity (P = 0.336), and the difference between virtual and traditional activities was significantly greater for participants without prior anatomy knowledge (P = 0.022). The virtual activity scored more highly in the perception survey for interest and engagement, motivation, understanding, and collaboration. Participants also regarded the virtual activity as more effective for teaching peers and agreed that having more virtual experiences would help them learn. CONCLUSION: These results suggest that VLRs in collaborative learning activities enhance the learning experience and have the potential to increase knowledge acquisition. Future work should investigate whether knowledge improvements can be retained long term, as well as the impact of more immersive virtual experiences on collaborative learning.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2019
Event15th Annual Meeting of the Australian and New Zealand Association of Clinical Anatomists - ANZACA 2018 - James Cook University, Townsville, Australia
Duration: 02 Dec 201805 Dec 2018
https://click.endnote.com/viewer?doi=10.1002%2Fca.23426&token=WzIwMzE1NjQsIjEwLjEwMDIvY2EuMjM0MjYiXQ.bKNJimSkQo0X6T3XaQcuftYQAgY (Conference abstracts)


Conference15th Annual Meeting of the Australian and New Zealand Association of Clinical Anatomists - ANZACA 2018
Abbreviated titleAdvances in Human Biology–education, research and technology
OtherDelegates from South Africa, United Kingdom,Poland, United States of America, India, New Zealand,and all states of Australia attended the 2018 ANZACA conference in 2018.Professor Simon Parson started the conference with a keynote presentation“Practical Anatomy: The Challenge of Engaging All of Our Students,”and Associate Professor Danielle Royer’s keynote presentation“Variation:Anatomical Constant, Clinical Imperative, Educational Dilemma”was followed by 27 oral and 30 poster presentations, including anatomy education and research papers. Two workshops were held during the conference entitled “ANZACA Mentorship Program HOW 2: How to start a clinical anatomy research project”by Alexandra Webb (ANU,Canberra, Australia) and“Surgical Anatomy symposium”by Ali Mirjalili (University of Auckland, New Zealand).
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