(Free PDF Access) Skepticism towards advancing VR technology – student acceptance of VR as a teaching and assessment tool in medicine

Steffen Walter, Robert Speidel, Alexander Hann, Janine Leitner, Lucia Jerg-Bretzke, Peter Kropp, Jakob Garbe, Florian Ebner

GMS J Med Educ 2021;38(6):Doc100
DOI: 10.3205/zma001496


Objective: The high didactic potential of Virtual Reality (VR) contrasts with the point of view of students that the technology only has a relatively low significance for current and future teaching. This discrepancy was studied in a differentiated manner in order to gear the further development and implementation of VR towards the target group.

Methods: From January 2020 to July 2020, medical students (N=318) were asked to watch ten videos online and rate them on the basis of acceptance indicators (e.g., fun and fairness). Using obstetrics as an example, the videos demonstrated five levels of VR technology functionality (e.g., haptic and adaptive feedback), some of which were visionary, in two use scenarios (teaching and the OSCE). The individual and aggregate indicators were compared with non-parametric testing procedures across application scenarios, functional levels and genders. In addition, correlations between the acceptance and the factors of semester, age, computer affinity, and previous VR experience were analyzed.

Results: Across all functional levels, VR was more likely to be accepted in the classroom than in the OSCE. Comparisons across functional levels also revealed that the VR ready to be marketed was significantly more accepted than the visionary functions. This skepticism toward advancing VR technology was most pronounced with regard to the vision of autonomous VR examinations and among female students with a low computer affinity.

Conclusion: The results suggest that the students’ reservations are due to a lack of experience with the VR technology. In order for young physicians to become familiar with the technology and to be able to use it competently in the everyday clinical practice in the future, VR should not only be used as a teaching tool but also be part of the curriculum. Practical examinations using VR, on the other hand, are only recommended once the technology has become established in teaching and has been proven to be reliable.