Virtual Reality Field Trip (VRFT) of Environmental Science Students: A Phenomenological Study


  • Marijul B. Jovero, Joysyl A. Silvosa, Blanca A. Alejandro


Virtual Reality Field Trip, Virtual Environment, Environmental Science, Education, and Phenomenology



Experiential field-based learning is widely regarded as an important component of undergraduate environmental science education as it provides students opportunities for first-hand experiences that promote critical thinking, stimulates curiosity, increases their interest in scientific inquiry, appreciation for nature, and positive attitudes toward science. However, the unforeseen spread of the COVID-19 pandemic drove educational institutions to deliver classes in alternative modalities (online and modular), thus, the implementation of local field-based learning is restricted. Meanwhile, the educational crisis due to the pandemic provide teachers opportunities to explore technologies that are viable alternatives to the actual field trips. Virtual Reality Field Trips (VFTR) is a feasible alternative that had been promoted as a means to simulate, not replace the actual real-world field trip. Several studies can be found that described the benefits and effectiveness of VRFT in education however, literature regarding students’ perceptions on the role of VFTs in fieldwork environmental education is surprisingly sparse.


This study explored and investigated the lived experiences of Environmental Science students on experiencing the Virtual Reality Field trip. Specifically, the aim was to provide detailed descriptions of an event, relying solely on an individual’s first-hand experience of the phenomenon and utilize findings as conclusions regarding the feasibility of VRFT.


This study utilized a descriptive phenomenological research design on which participants were selected purposively using criterion-based sampling and collected the data using semi-structured face-to-face interviews. The researchers followed the essential process of epoché, or bracketing by devising a full written description of their own lived experiences which allowed the researchers to effectively clear away their own experiences to give an unsullied perspective toward the phenomena in question. In analyzing participants’ transcripts, a descriptive phenomenological procedure suggested by Creswell (2013) was employed.



Four major themes and associated subthemes emerged from this study, such as VFRT is feasible, VFRT can manage the recalcitrance of nature, VFRT optimizes learning and VRFT is a novel experience. Nevertheless, the positive remarks from the students could not be attributed to the Virtual Reality technology device as the content of virtual field trips, videos utilized in the lesson, depends greatly on the teacher’s choice as her input to the entire learning experience. Moreover, participants’ positive impression of VRFT can be credited to fast internet connectivity and the advanced smartphone capability used in the conduct of the study made the entire virtual tour realistic.


VRFT can be used as a feasible substitute for actual Field Trips, especially in Ecology classes as it assures the safety of the learners while making sure that lesson objectives in actual field trips are still achieved. Using the VRFT approach may be expensive but in the long run, academic institutions can eventually save especially when 3D 360 VR videos are stored in the database and VR devices are properly maintained.  Finally, the study results proved that learning is progressive and education has to welcome new technologies and novel experiences to optimize learning.