Effect of multitasking and task characteristics interaction on cognitive load and learning outcomes in virtual reality learning environments


EDUCATION AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES, vol.28, no.11, pp.14915-14942, 2023 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 28 Issue: 11
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s10639-023-11813-6
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Communication Abstracts, EBSCO Education Source, Educational research abstracts (ERA), ERIC (Education Resources Information Center), INSPEC
  • Page Numbers: pp.14915-14942
  • Keywords: Cognitive load, Learning outcomes, Multitasking, Task characteristics, Virtual reality
  • Anadolu University Affiliated: Yes


Learning environments are undergoing a dynamic alteration with the robust impact of technological transformation. Therefore, adapting to dynamic learning settings has now become a key criterion for academic performance. The factors that we know have a detrimental effect on learners' academic performance and cognitive capacity are related to today's traditional learning settings, but the circumstances in interactive learning environments such as virtual reality learning environments remains uncertain. To address this gap, we aimed to investigate the circumstances in virtual reality learning environments by considering both task characteristics and multitasking, both of which have been shown to have controversial effects on cognitive load and academic performance. The research was carried out with a total of 218 participants assigned to one of four treatment groups: (1) Multitasking & Regular Task (f = 59), (2) Multitasking & Hard Task (f = 56), (3) Monotasking & Regular Task (f = 52), and (4) Monotasking & Hard Task (f = 51), all with previous experience in virtual reality learning environments. Learners' working memory capacity and prior knowledge levels were measured as covariate variables. MANCOVA results showed significant differences across the treatment groups, in terms of achievement and retention scores. Findings not only reveal the more need for multifaceted empirical research in the field of education but also indicate that the outcomes of interactive learning environments may differ from those of traditional learning settings.