Fostering virtual reality environments to advance construction and engineering students' interpersonal skills Conference

Pradhananga, P, Elzomor, M, Santi, G et al. (2020). Fostering virtual reality environments to advance construction and engineering students' interpersonal skills . 2020-June

cited authors

  • Pradhananga, P; Elzomor, M; Santi, G; Zhang, L


  • From providing access to clean water to managing large-scale infrastructure projects, the grand challenges that construction managers face in the modern world are equally technical and professional. To overcome these challenges, such aspiring professionals must not only become experts on the technical aspects of their specific field but also develop their soft skills to enable leveraging their technical knowledge in an evolving, increasingly complex and globalized work environment. However, these skills have become stifled, as the typical construction management (CM) graduate spends approximately four years building her/his technical expertise, with little to no time devoted to communication training. For this reason, this research seeks to integrate an objective communication activity in CM curricula that make up for this gap. This research has proven to advance CM students' formal communication skills by creating an engaging educational environment through Virtual Reality (VR) presentation simulations. An initial benchmark survey was administered to 327 STEM students at a minority serving institution, to understand the impact of students' socio-demographics on their presentation skills. Then, a pilot study was offered to 60 CM students, in which they were required to participate in VR Presentation Simulation Trainings. To analyze students' presentation skills improvement through the VR-activity, the authors conducted peer evaluations for pre and post-activity presentations. Additionally, after the VR activity, the authors conducted an exit survey, obtaining the students' perception of the activity. The data obtained from the different surveys and evaluations allowed the authors to (1) develop an ordered probit regression model to understand the influence of several factors such as academic level, gender, first-generation and international status; (2) identify the major deficiencies in CM students' communication and presentation skills; and (3) assess the effects of VR-based presentation simulations on CM students' presentation skills. The results provide valuable feedback and insight into the implementation of alternative learning pedagogies that integrate students' development skills in addition to technical contents.

publication date

  • June 22, 2020


  • 2020-June