Leah T. Ritz

Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Science & Mathematics Teaching Center


Associate Professor Alan Buss, Chair

Second Advisor

Assistant Professor Tonia Dousay

Third Advisor

Associate Professor Ruben Gamboa


This research uses the framework of Cognitive Load Theory to inform changing trends in instructional design for teaching with an emerging technology, specifically an immersive virtual reality (IVR) system known as Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE). By highlighting the affordances of IVR specific to the CAVE and how they can impact the three domains of cognitive load, this research will identify how immersive CAVE technology can alter cognitive load to promote or deter deeper learning. It will also underline the importance of establishing new instructional strategy guidelines for this emerging educational technology to mitigate the risk of designing lessons with CAVEs that simply overwhelm the extraneous cognitive load with unnecessary information and impede the working memory resources of learners. The literature review focuses on how use of the CAVE as an educational tool will positively and negatively impact a learner’s cognitive load, as well as current pedagogy and practices for educational technology. This background information will then be applied to make recommendations for best practices in designing lessons and instructional materials for the CAVE to support adequate cognitive load and create opportunities for positive learning. The recommendations are in the areas of content, differentiated instruction, interactivity of instruction, presentation of learning materials, virtual and physical spaces, and technical knowledge.


Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Masters in Science in Natural Science/Mathematics in the Science and Mathematics Teaching Center of the University of Wyoming.