Aleshia Hayes


Assistant Professor


Ph.D., University of Central Florida - 2015

  • Major: Modeling and Simulation / Computer Science
  • Degree Specialization: Simulation for Education
  • Dissertation Title: Effectiveness of Tracking on Social Presence

M.S., University of Central Florida - 2014

  • Major: Modeling and Simulation/ Computer Science
  • Degree Specialization: Simulation for Education
  • Dissertation Title: Simulation to Train Pre-service doctors on Patient care

M.A., Purdue University - 2008

  • Major: Communication
  • Dissertation Title: Stigma and Suicide

B.S., Purdue University - 2001

  • Major: Psychology



​Research Interests

Dr. Aleshia Hayes is new faculty in University of North Texas’ Department of Learning Technology in the College of Information. Dr. Hayes is passionate about developing, evaluating, and iterating on technology used for learning in formal and informal environments. Previously Dr. Aleshia Hayes was founding Director of SURGE (Simulation Research and Game Experience) VR lab at Purdue University in Fort Wayne where she led design, development, testing and implementation of Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Mixed Reality, Serious Games and gamified Learning Technology tools for commercial and military partners. In addition to a passion for the effective implementation of emerging technology for learning, Dr. Hayes works tirelessly to encourage students at all levels to pursue STEM education and STEM careers with the explicit goal of expanding and diversifying STEM education and the STEM workforce. Her efforts to recruit students into STEM range from public exhibits of Virtual Reality, to K12 classroom visits, to app development camps for middle and high school aged students to hosting interdisciplinary game development events. Dr. Hayes leverages her research funded by NSF, NIH, the Department of Defense and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to inform Learning Technology design and implementation across learners from K12 and university levels to the workforce.

Research Laboratories

  • SURGE Lab is a University of North Texas research lab dedicated to advancing research in VR, AR, MR, and XR.  

Notable Publications

  • An Approach to Holistic Development of Serious Games and Learning Simulations​ (2014). Published as part of the International Conference on Learning and Collaboration Technologies. Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series. 
    Abstract: This discourse is an argument for a holistic approach to developing learning games and computer mediated experiences through the intersections of the areas of efficacy, effectiveness, and user experience in designing and developing serious games and simulated learning experiences. Some examples are explored in which reasonably effective design approaches could have been improved by a more holistic and iterative approach. The approach includes the integration of learning objectives, outcomes, usability, motivation, experience, ludus, aesthetics, cost and sustainability of the systems based on research within the fields of education, learning theory, game design theory, and simulation. These constructs explain the need for an iterative and holistic approach to designing and developing learning games. Embracing iterative and learning centered design of serious games will perpetuate development of effective educational technology.

  • Perceived Presence's Role on Learning Outcomes in a Mixed Reality Classroom of Simulated Students (2014). Published as part of the International Conference on Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality. Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series. 
    Abstract: This research is part of an ongoing effort on the efficacy and user experience of TLE TeachLivETM, a 3D mixed reality classroom with simulated students used to facilitate virtual rehearsal of pedagogical skills by teachers. This research investigated a potential relationship between efficacy, in terms of knowledge acquisition and transfer, and user experience in regard to presence, suspension of disbelief, and immersion. The initial case studies examining user experience of presence, suspension of disbelief, and immersion were used to develop a presence questionnaire revised from the work of Witmer and Singer (1998) to address the TLE TeachLivETM mixed reality environment. The findings suggest that targeted practice, authentic scenarios, and suspension of disbelief in virtual learning environments may impact learning.

  • Ludic Learning: Exploration of TLE TeachLivETM and Effective Teacher Training (2013). Published by the International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations.
    Abstract: New and emerging technology in the field of virtual environments has permitted a certain malleability of learning milieus. These emerging environments allow learning and transfer through interactions that have been intentionally designed to be pleasurable experiences. TLE TeachLivETM is just such an emerging environment that engages teachers in practice on pedagogical and content aspects of teaching in a simulator. The sense of presence, engagement, and ludus of TLE TeachLivETM are derived from the compelling Mixed Reality that includes components of off-the-shelf and emerging technologies. Some of the noted features that have been identified relevant to the ludic nature of TeachLivE include the flow, fidelity, unpredictability, suspension of disbelief, social presence, and game-like elements. This article explores TLE TeachLivETM in terms of the ludology, paideic user experience, the source of the ludus, and outcomes of the ludic nature of the experience.