Collaborative task performance for learning using a virtual environment
Barfield, Woodrow S.
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This paper describes a study on the sense of presence and task performance in a virtual environment as affected by copresence (one subject working alone versus two subjects working as partners), level of control (control of movement and control of navigation through the virtual environment), and head tracking. Twenty subjects navigated through six versions of a virtual environment and were asked to identify changes in locations of objects within the environment. After each trial, subjects completed a questionnaire designed to assess their level of presence within the virtual environment. Results indicated that collaboration did not increase the sense of presence in the virtual environment, but did improve the quality of the experience in the virtual environment. Level of control did not affect the sense of presence, but subjects did prefer to control both movement and navigation. Head tracking did not affect the sense of presence, but did contribute to the spatial realism of the virtual environment. Task performance was affected by the presence of another individual, by head tracking, and by level of control, with subjects performing significantly more poorly when they were both alone and without control and head tracking. In addition, a factor analysis indicated that questions designed to assess the subjects' experience in the virtual environment could be grouped into three factors: (1) presence in the virtual environment, (2) quality of the virtual environment, and (3) task difficulty.