Pleading in Virtual Reality: improving student experience and student learning

14 November 2023

Educational project

Pleading in Virtual Reality: improving student experience and student learning

This project aims to assess the positively effective elements of a VR-approach in Law education.


Recent research showed the potential of immersive VR to contribute to legal skills development (McFaul & FitzGerald 2019). By using VR technology, first-year UU law students meet each other in a virtual courtroom; they give feedback to their peers with a specially designed feedback app and read about their performance afterwards. This creates a unique opportunity for students to practice their pleading skills, implement feedback, and further improve their performance in the courtroom.

Aim and research question

Our aim is to study which elements of our VR-approach (positively) influence student experience and student learning. Our research question is: What effect does our VR-exercise, in combination with peer feedback, have on student experience and (perceived) learning?

Project description

To asses these questions, a questionnaire measuring constructs of interest was developed and pilot tested for validation purposes. The constructs of interest included: Value/Usefulness (I); Competence (II); Confidence (III); Reflective thinking (integrated with the feedback construct; IV). The validation of the questionnaire will enable to test the following hypothesis: practicing pleading in a virtual, authentic courtroom is a useful and valuable experience for students, which increases perceived competence and promote confidence. Moreover, it will enhance reflective thinking and self-regulation skills when effective peer feedback is provided. The following steps were taken for the development of the questionnaire and pilot testing:
1.The literature has been searched for validated questionnaires, or clusters of questions that can measure the four mechanisms mentioned.

2. The clusters of questions were combined, translated and contextualized into a (Dutch) questionnaire. These questions/items were discussed with experts.

3. The assembled questionnaire was pilot tested in our specific teaching context (n=57). We conducted confirmatory factor analysis to test construct validity, as well as Cronbach’s alpha to test reliability or internal consistency using R.

Results and conclusion

All constructs showed good internal consistency, except for confidence. As a result of the validation procedure two questions have been slightly altered and the questionnaire’s validity will be assessed again within the main study. Preliminary results after VR exercises showed that students about half the time perceived to be competent (M=3.167), usually felt confident (M=3.991) and valued VR (M=3.848) and about half the time valued their reflective thinking (M=3.539).

The validation procedure pointed out that most constructs were valid and consistent; the construct for confidence needed some revisions. The revised questionnaire will be used in the next step: measuring the development of students through courses in which is pleaded multiple times, including the use of VR, and comparing various student populations with each other.


  • Herrington & Herrington (2006) Authentic Learning Environments in Higher Education. Information Science Publishing.
  • Keller (1987). Development and use of the ARCS Model of Instructional Design. J. of Instructional Development, 10(3), 2-10.
  • McFaul & FitzGerald (2019) A realistic evaluation of student use of a virtual reality smartphone application in undergraduate legal education. Br. J. Educ. Techn. 1-18
  • Winstone & Carless (2019) Designing effective feedback processes in higher education: a learning-focused approach. Routledge

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