Understanding the Cybersickness Effects of Using Virtual Reality-Based Classroom for Undergraduate Students: A Preliminary Study

Sannia Mareta, Xin Mou, Holly Nelson, May Tan-Mullins, Joseph Manuel Thenara, Rafael Rivero

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


    Purpose – Virtual reality (VR) technologies have expanded their domain of
    application towards education, offering various pedagogical advantages such as
    an immersive environment, teaching innovation, and in-depth user engagement
    by allowing the students to experience real-life scenarios of the taught subject
    through virtual simulations. Motion sickness, as one of the long-standing key
    challenges of VR utilization, even in gaming, often becomes a barrier for VR
    users to fully engage with the content developed in the virtual world. Thus, this
    work presents a preliminary study on understanding the symptoms of motion
    sickness — which will be referred to later as ‘cybersickness’ — in the teaching
    and learning (T&L) context.
    Design/methodology/approach – A VR-based virtual classroom (V-Room)
    was developed and tested, in which 60 undergraduate students at the University
    of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC) participated. In this study, the students
    were equipped with the same VR headset and had the same V-Room
    environment. Data were collected through a two-step questionnaire, using both
    qualitative and quantitative measures, that was distributed to the participants
    before and after the study session. The severity of cybersickness was
    categorized into low-impact, medium-impact, and high-impact symptoms,
    alongside an overall comfort level experienced in the V-Room. Using the
    ANOVA F-test statistical approach, the data were analysed based on the
    following two research questions: (1) Has gender an influence on the presence
    of cybersickness symptoms?; and (ii) Does students’ academic background (i.e.
    natural sciences and social science) also affect their experience in using VR for
    Findings – The results demonstrated that approximately 47% of the participants
    had experienced cybersickness during the V-Room experiential journey, of
    whom 64% were females. With a confidence level of 95% (α=5%), the p-value
    obtained for the respective gender and study discipline categories against the
    cybersickness symptoms were all smaller than 0.05, indicating that there was a
    significant difference between the two compared variables. Likewise, the Fstatistical value was larger than the F-critical value, showing that both gender
    and study discipline have a considerable impact on the cybersickness. Moreover,
    it is worth highlighting that the top three factors that caused the cybersickness
    were the speed of the virtual movement, the perspective angle, and the visual
    properties of the virtual environment.
    Originality/value/implications – It is hoped that the results of this study
    provide valuable pointers for future VR-based virtual classroom developers to
    minimize the cybersickness symptoms in the higher education T&L context that
    would enable an effective learning environment for the students.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationInternational Conference on Open and Innovative Education (ICOIE) 2021
    EditorsEva Tsang, Kam Cheong Li, Philips Wang
    Place of PublicationHong Kong
    PublisherThe Open University of Hong Kong
    Number of pages16
    ISBN (Electronic)9789888439683
    Publication statusPublished - 2021


    • V-Room
    • virtual reality
    • cybersickness
    • motion sickness
    • teaching and learning
    • education technology


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