Mixed Reality Learning Environments in Times of Pandemic: What Can We Learn?

Casey May, Mason Grabowski, Simrun Mutha, Raul Frias Perez, Sophia Borovikova, Yevgeniya V. Zastavker, Victoria Bennett, Tarek Abdoun, Casper Harteveld

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


This Work-in-Progress paper focuses on the qualitative aspects of a larger mixed-methods study about GeoExplorer, a game-based learning aspect of a mixed reality educational environment where students participate in a mock internship with the goal to complete a geotechnical mission involving Cone Penetration Testing, a civil engineering field technique students traditionally get very little exposure to due to its complexity and cost. This work seeks to understand how mixed reality learning environments, specifically game-based learning, support (i) creation of individualized hands-on learning opportunities, particularly during the pandemic-driven remote learning paradigm, and (ii) students' development along various noncognitive axes - confidence and motivation. Methods of narrative analyses and grounded theory are used to identify emergent themes in interviews with 10 undergraduate civil engineering students who experienced GeoExplorer in their required geotechnical engineering courses. Our preliminary findings indicate that the GeoExplorer activity was perceived by students as a novel learning experience, particularly welcomed in a time of remote learning, that motivates them to engage more with content and creates individualized hands-on experiences. Students describe how the activity affects their perceived confidence, often gendered, regarding their ability to perform civil engineering fieldwork. Further analyses of these findings may shed light on the ways in which mixed reality learning environments support equitable learning opportunities for all students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2021 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2021
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
ISBN (Electronic)9781665438513
StatePublished - 2021
Event2021 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2021 - Lincoln, United States
Duration: Oct 13 2021Oct 16 2021

Publication series

NameProceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE
ISSN (Print)1539-4565


Conference2021 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2021
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • Civil Engineering
  • Game Based Learning
  • Mixed Reality
  • Virtual Learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Education
  • Computer Science Applications


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