Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




College of Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Anthony Setari

Second Advisor

Jessica Richardi

Third Advisor

Kimberly Shaw


This research study focuses on providing professional development for teachers using virtual reality in secondary social studies classrooms. Literature surrounding virtual reality for education focuses on the effects of virtual reality on student motivation and engagement. However, there are no current studies available to help instructional coaches or academic leaders provide adequate professional development for their staff on this topic. The purpose of this mixed-methods exploratory case study is to design a professional development founded on best practices in VR and instructional coaching to help support social studies teachers integrate VR in the classroom. Research questions include: 1) How do teachers in the school district currently use VR in the classroom? 2) What relationship exists between self-reported rubric scores and post-survey data as a result of participation in VR coaching cycles? 3) What influence does VR professional development have on future VR implementation?

The research participants are middle school social studies teachers in the school district in which I am employed, (N=4). The main phases of this research study include recruitment and consent, preparing the professional development according to the current understandings and needs of participants, coaching cycles, and debriefing. Data collection consists of using a pre and post survey, a focus group interview, a feedback rubric, and individual coaching conversations. Two statistical tests, Spearman’s rho and a paired samples t-test will help determine answers to the research questions along with the qualitative data collected.

Although teachers have limited access to VR headsets, teachers are using less immersive formats of VR such as 360 degree videos and Nearpod. Based upon pre-survey data and focus group interview, teachers are excited to learn more about how to use VR in their class. However, they lack the experience in using headsets themselves. Participation in the professional development had a large effect on teachers. Based on coaching conversations, participants wish to implement VR in their lessons more frequently and feel more confident to do so. Spearman’s rho correlation test showed there were no statistically significant correlations between items on the rubric and the post-survey. However, when looking at the paired samples t-test, several statements from the pre and post surveys were statistically significant.

The implication of this research is that educational leaders can use this type of professional development as a model to build capacity in teachers to use VR in their classes. Recommendations are made to streamline implementation and support teachers in using VR at the district and school levels. Future studies may consider comparing different models of professional development to further explore best practices in VR instruction.

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