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A Center for Engineering Education Research (CEER) Seminar,March 24, 2014

posted Mar 21, 2014, 6:52 AM by Kathy Dehshiri   [ updated Mar 21, 2014, 7:06 AM ]

Student Motivation in a Virtual Ecosystem Environment

  Trisha L. Vickrey, PhD

  Post-doctoral Research Candidate for the
Automated Analysis of Constructed Response (AACR) Research Group

Monday, March 24, 2014

11:00 – 12:00

3405B Engineering



Multi-user virtual environments (MUVEs) are immersive, collaborative, and experiential, which can allow students to authentically construct meaning and knowledge from their experiences. Students report enjoying MUVE features such as the ability to move around freely and explore in 3D space, and to interact with virtual people. These novel experiences could serve as extrinsic motivators for student learning. Student engagement within a MUVE, however, may not be equivalent to engagement with a learning task, and some of the novel features of this technology could be a distraction from learning. Here, we present research on changes in student motivation during a two-week MUVE-based ecosystem science curriculum (EcoMUVE). Student motivation was surveyed at the beginning, middle and end of the curriculum. Student responses were analyzed to determine the extent to which student engagement was attributable to activities related to learning activities, such as collaboration and data collection, or to novelty, which we expected would be attenuated by increased exposure to the technology. Over the two-week period, student responses initially focused on novel features of the technology. However, by the end, students increasingly focused on the pedagogical aspects of the curriculum.


Trisha Vickrey is currently a Visiting Chemistry Professor at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. She recently completed her M.Ed. at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she researched middle school students' learning and motivation in an immersive virtual ecosystem environment. Trisha also holds a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Virginia, where she researched the basic neurobiology and mechanisms underlying dopamine regulation. Prior to graduate school, she received her B.S. in chemistry from the University of Mississippi. Trisha's long-standing interest in science education began after she taught a summer science program as an undergraduate student. She subsequently spent one year teaching high school science and mathematics at a charter school in Arkansas. As a graduate student, she founded a K-5 science outreach organization that partnered with local schools to facilitate inquiry-based science experiments in over 50 classrooms. During this time, she was also a Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Graduate Fellow at the National Academy of Sciences, where she completed a timing and tracking study as well as developed educational materials for the Koshland Science Museum. Outside of teaching and research, Trisha is currently interested in learning how to weld so that she can make metal art.

Post-doc lunch

We would like to invite any current DBER post-docs to join Trisha for lunch after the talk from 12-1to share your experiences as post-docs at MSU with her. If you would like to participate, please RSVP to Alica Heeney (heeney@egr.msu.edu ) by 5 PM Friday so we can order food.