Implementing Virtual Reality Headsets in Design Education: Identifying Springboards and Barriers to Success.

Christine Chan

Authors:  Christine Chan, Jason Meneely

Faculty Mentor:  Jason Meneely

College:  College of Design, Construction, and Planning


While Virtual Reality (VR) is now widely used as a final design presentation tool, little research focuses on the role of VR during design development processes in design education. However, properly positioned and pedagogically researched VR holds great potential for helping students make better design decisions to support end-users with diverse needs. This research seeks to connect the value of VR as not only a presentation medium but also as a “perspective taking” tool to help students develop better design solutions. Undergraduate Interior Design students (n=15) were recruited to experience their already completed studio projects of a retail store design as a VR character in a virtual wheelchair. Each participant was asked to assess the effectiveness of their design solution for wheelchair users before and after the intervention. The interactions students had during their VR sessions were recorded and content analyzed for emerging themes. Although the sample size was small to achieve statistical power, qualitative findings revealed numerous perceptual shifts as students identified problems for wheelchair users in their design solutions.

Poster Pitch

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4 Responses
  1. Sheila Bosch

    Christine, this looks great! I’d be curious as to the exact question you asked students to respond to for rating their designs. Was it a Likert-type scale? What was the range of options (e.g., 1-10, 1-5)? Did you transcribe their verbal comments yourself or hire a service? If service, were you happy with it and what was the name of it? Hopefully you and Jason can publish this in a peer-reviewed journal!

    1. Christine Chan

      Hello Dr. Bosch,

      Thank you for visiting my research! Yes, it was on a likert-type scale. The exact question was “On a scale 1-7, how accessible do you think your design is, with 7 being the most accessible.” I transcribed the comments myself and analyzed them as the sample was not too large. Hopefully, Jason can continue on with this research to build a larger sample in the future and publish it that way!

  2. Carolyn Muldowney

    This is very interesting! I really think this would benefit design education. Do you believe that VR will also be successful in a professional setting for presenting designs to clients? Is there a limit in the complexity of a design/3D program that VR can handle?

    1. Christine Chan

      Hello Carolyn! In fact, VR is currently used most widely in professional settings to present their design, and thus it is our goal to try to bring those into an earlier process (in education & during the design process). There is currently a limit in the complexity of the design while converting the files from student-built 3D CAD models and VR, and thus limiting the application of this technology in design education.