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Incidental Learning and Virtual Worlds Open Access


Other title
Learning Styles
Digital Literacy
Incidental Learning
Visual Salience
Virtual Worlds
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Thomas, Wayne W
Supervisor and department
Boechler, Patricia M (Educational Psychology)
Examining committee member and department
Boechler, Patricia M (Educational Psychology)
Buck, George (Educational Psychology)
Adams, Catherine (Secondary Education)
Department of Educational Psychology
Technology in Education
Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Education
Degree level
This study sought to determine whether or not students could learn textual and pictorial information incidentally within virtual worlds and investigated whether or not other factors such as learning style or digital literacy predicted incidental learning. The study also investigated whether visual salience played a role in incidental learning. The study utilized a quasi-experimental design, and its participants were 155 undergraduate students from the University of Alberta enrolled in introductory educational psychology. The results indicated that in addition to incidental learning taking place in virtual worlds, learning style and digital literacy seemed to predict incidental learning in some instances. The results also suggested that visual salience played a role in incidental learning as the participants performed better on the information that was made visually salient. These findings have implications for schools that may want to use a virtual world to set up a classroom or a learning space for students.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
Citation for previous publication
Thomas, W., Boechler, P., deJong, E., Stroulia, E. & Delaney, M. (2012). Incidental Learning and Salience in Virtual Worlds. In T. Bastiaens & G. Marks (Eds.), Proceedings of World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education 2012 (pp. 1686-1690). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. Retrieved from

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