This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Examining the Impact of Virtual Reality Integration into a Social Studies Classroom




Riner, Ashley

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Education Foundation, Leadership, and Technology


One of the critical roles of instructional leaders is to help teachers with technology integration. Instructional leaders should be familiar with emerging technology and understand how they can help teachers integrate new technology appropriately into their classrooms. One tool that has become increasingly popular to support student learning is virtual reality (VR). The purpose of this study was to explore the use of VR in a social studies classroom as it pertained to three key areas: content knowledge, students’ classroom engagement, and historical empathy. The study utilized a quasi-experimental mixed methods to collect data, and both qualitative and quantitative data were analyzed. Specifically, a pre and post test, pre and post-survey, video recordings, teacher and student interviews, writing reflections, and field observations were collected during the course of this study. There was a VR group and Website group that explored the life of Anne Frank during the Holocaust and her time within the Secret Annex. The results of this study showed that no statistically significant difference in content knowledge and social studies engagement were found. However, statistically significant growth was observed in the development of historical empathy. Qualitative data particularly revealed that the use of both VR and the website was beneficial to promote student engagement, understanding of historical past, and historical empathy. The findings suggest that integration of VR is beneficial for student learning and instructional leaders should find ways to support teachers’ integration of VR in K-12 classrooms.