Student evaluations of using virtual reality to investigate natural hazard field sites

Paul Wright*, Malcolm Whitworth, Alessandro Tibaldi, Fabio Luca Bonali, Paraskevi Nomikou, Varvara Antoniou, Fabio Vitello, Ugo Becciani, Mel Krokos, Benjamin van Wyk de Vries

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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At a time when traditional fieldwork is coming under pressure, be it from shrinking budgets, reducing carbon footprints, increased concerns for personal safety or the desire to make field skills accessible to all, how do we ensure that the key skills of observation, data collection and landscape analysis can still be developed in our students? This paper evaluates the experiences of students using immersive virtual reality (VR) to interrogate highly accurate georeferenced landscape models, made from data collected by Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, through the medium of Q methodology. It finds that there appears to be an association between prior engagement and expertise with IT and gaming technologies, such that those who declare some degree of prowess engage with and embrace the opportunities of using VR. This suggests that to allow more students to adopt positive approaches to learning in this manner, educators need to worry less about ever complex and realistic models, and invest more into positive prior experiences of using technology. Moreover, an important voice in the narrative around the physical nature of “being in the field” and social interaction with peers and tutors questions an approach that is still a relatively solitary experience.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-329
JournalJournal of Geography in Higher Education
Issue number2
Early online date9 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2023


  • Virtual Reality
  • Natural hazards
  • Teaching
  • Students
  • Learning

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