Inspiration

Research has shown that test-taking anxiety can affect kids starting in kindergarten right up through graduate school. Tests are a fundamental part of education, yet there has been little innovation in (1) re-imagining what testing looks like through technology, and more importantly, how technology might help to address test-taking anxiety. According to NYU, 49% of students surveyed reported feeling a great deal of stress on a daily basis. A substantial minority, 26 percent of participants, reported symptoms of depression at a clinically significant level.

What it does

Rather than mimicking a traditional classroom, Mindful Testing Virtual Reality (MTVR) places the user into a more relaxing, virtual beach environment. Before testing begins, MTVR guides the user through a simple meditation known as square breathing. After this is completed, the formal assessment is initiated. In this current demo, the course subject is geometry and is explored via 3D object identification. Placed along the beach, the user is asked to correctly identify figures such as cubes, cones, and cylinders.

How we built it

Technical:

  • We utilized Unreal Engine to build the experience
  • Audio was self-recorded and made via GarageBand

Non-technical: We first conducted preliminary research on a wide range of topics including test-taking, anxiety, meditation, virtual environments, and course content. Next was constructing an experience roadmap of what the user would see sequentially, along with visual mockups of the shapes, breathing exercise, and environment.

Challenges we ran into

  • Timing
  • Getting acquainted with the software
  • Translating curricular material into something that can be assessed tactically via VR

Accomplishments that we're proud of

  • Without any prior experience, two members of the team learned how to use Unreal Engine
  • Building an aesthetically pleasing experience in less than two days
  • All five members of the team contributing their unique skillsets to the project (ideation, education, mindfulness, Unreal Engine, UX, project management, voice acting)

What we learned

  • How to use Unreal Engine
  • How effective gamifying the experience contributes to enjoyment and engagement
  • Limitations of Oculus Hardware
  • Importance of clear instructions and how to optimize that with audio and visual instructions for VR

What's next for Mindful Testing Virtual Reality

  • Further experimentation with porting this to WebVR to obtain more adoption
  • Potential Collaboration/integration with Seaing Breath VR: https://seaingbreath.com/

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