An investigation of the role of background music in IVWs for learning
Empirical evidence is needed to corroborate the intuitions of gamers and game developers in understanding the benefits of Immersive Virtual Worlds (IVWs) as a learning environment and the role that music plays within these environments. We report an investigation to determine if background music of the genre typically found in computer-based role-playing games has an effect on learning in a computer-animated history lesson about the Macquarie Lighthouse within an IVW. In Experiment 1, music stimuli were created from four different computer game soundtracks. Seventy-two undergraduate students watched the presentation and completed a survey including biographical details, questions on the historical material presented and questions relating to their perceived level of immersion. While the tempo and pitch of the music was unrelated to learning, music conditions resulted in a higher number of accurately remembered facts than the no music condition. One soundtrack showed a statistically significant improvement in memorisation of facts over other music conditions. Also an interaction between the levels of perceived immersion and ability to accurately remember facts was observed. Experiment 2, involving 48 undergraduate students, further investigated the effect of music, sense of immersion and how different display systems affect memory for facts.
Keywords: immersive virtual worlds; learning; music