Promoting musical instrument learning in virtual reality environment: Effects of embodiment and visual cues

Shufan Yu, Qingtang Liu, Mina C. Johnson-Glenberg, Miaomiao Han, Jingjinag Ma, Shen Ba, Linjing Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


While virtual reality (VR) provides a great potential for musical instrument learning, little attention has been paid to the instructional design in creating a VR musical instrument. Previous research has suggested that high embodied interaction or added visual cues (e.g., distinctive colors, flashing areas) on VR-based musical instrument may aid students' learning. In this study, we investigated the feasibility and efficacy of the embodied design (low and high level of embodiment; LoEmb and HiEmb) and visual cues (low and high level of visual cues; LoViz and HiViz) on students' musical instrument learning. Four corresponding virtual Chinese dulcimers (Yangqin) were thereby designed. A sample of 112 university students participated in our study, and they were randomly assigned into the four conditions (LoEmb & LoViz, LoEmb & HiViz, HiEmb & LoViz, and HiEmb & HiViz). Results showed that the LoEmb design benefited students' completion rate, the HiViz improved students' playing rhythmic accuracy. Both LoEmb and HiViz decreased students' playing errors and improved their overall performance. Moreover, we found that the HiViz and HiEmb designs had a combined effect on reducing students’ cognitive load and improving the instructional efficiency of learning material. These findings collectively reveal that the design of VR learning materials should carefully consider the trade-off between the level of embodiment and visual cues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104764
JournalComputers and Education
StatePublished - Jun 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Applications in subject areas
  • Augmented and virtual reality
  • Human-computer interface
  • Media in education
  • Simulations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • Education


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