In spite of the growing popularity of virtual worlds for gaming, recreation, and education, few studies have explored the efficacy of 3D immersive virtual worlds in post-secondary instruction; even fewer discuss the ability of virtual worlds to help young adults develop creative thinking. This study investigated the effect of virtual world education on creative thought for university level students. Over the course of two semesters, a total of 97 university students participated in this study. Forty-six of these participants (experimental group) spent time in a specially designed virtual world environment, the V.I.E.W., while 51 of the participants (control group) met exclusively in a real-world classroom. Creative thought was measured before and after the intervention with the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking Verbal Forms A and B. Although the experimental group's ending scores did not reach the level of the control group's scores, results showed overall statistically significant gains for the experimental group at p = .033. The experimental group also achieved greater gains in the subcategories of fluency and flexibility, with significance at p = .036 and p = .043, respectively. At the end of the course, independent raters measured the creativity expressed in student art critiques, using a scale developed for this study. No overall significant differences between groups were found in the art critiques, except in the category of spatial awareness, where the experimental group's scores were significantly higher than the control group's scores at p = .039. For both instruments, analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to evaluate statistical data. Results suggest that immersive worlds can be at least as well suited as traditional university classrooms for developing creative thought—particularly in the context of art education. Implications for researchers, students, educators, and administrators are discussed.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Instructional Psychology and Technology



Date Submitted


Document Type





virtual worlds in education, creativity, Torrance Test of Creative Thinking