Daniel Wilson

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Lisa Vangsness

Committee Member

Kristen Weger

Committee Member

Nathan Tenhundfeld

Research Advisor

Lisa Vangsness


Cognitive learning, Educational psychology, Virtual reality, Shared virtual environments, Senses and sensation


This study investigated the effects of multimodal interfaces and immersive virtual environments on cognitive load. Participants played a first-person target shooting game with either a virtual reality headset or on a monitor, using visual, auditory-visual, and a haptic-visual interfaces. Performance and self-reported data about cognitive load and spatial presence were collected for each interface. The study found that both immersive environments and multimodal interfaces reduced cognitive load. Additionally, an interaction was seen such that multimodal interfaces were more effective at reducing cognitive load in immersive environments. These findings indicate that the addition of more modalities into interfaces, especially in highly immersive environments, may be beneficial for decreasing cognitive load and increasing performance. Differences between types of multimodal interfaces emphasizes the need for future research into how different modalities contribute to cognitive load.



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