Design Assessment in Virtual and Mixed Reality Environments: Comparison of Novices and Experts

Wei Wu, Justin Hartless, Aaron Tesei, Venkata Gunji, Steven Ayer, Jeremi London

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The construction industry is facing a severe shortage of skilled workforce. Higher education is challenged to develop innovative strategies to help college students develop career-specific competency and accelerate the transition from novice to expert. Technology innovations such as virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR) have been successfully integrated into learning and training programs to create authentic learning experiences within simulated virtual learning environments to facilitate tacit knowledge acquisition and workplace expertise development, which traditionally takes years of empirical experience and apprenticeship training. This study aims to explore potential VR and MR interventions in construction education and workforce development. It is directed at enhancing understanding of key differences between novices and experts and how VR and MR may facilitate tacit knowledge acquisition and expertise development to address the current skills gap in the construction industry. A simulation of accessibility design review and assessment for a tiny house was conducted via VR and MR mock-ups with the participation of both student novices and professional experts to collect behavioral and perceptual data using instruments that included a think-aloud protocol, a pair of pre- and postsurvey questionnaires, and audio/video recordings. Comparative analyses were conducted, and the results indicated that student novices, despite their lack of expertise, demonstrated comparable patterns of behaviors and achieved design review outcomes similar to those of professional experts with the VR and MR mock-ups. The findings of this study contribute to the body of knowledge by providing preliminary evidence of learning affordances of VR and MR in bridging experience-related gaps and suggesting opportunities for accelerating workplace expertise development among college students via technology intervention. These findings also have the potential to inform instructional design and pedagogical approaches that integrate VR and MR technology in undergraduate construction and engineering curricula.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number04019049
JournalJournal of Construction Engineering and Management
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Industrial relations
  • Strategy and Management


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