The study shows that students felt more engaged with augmented reality but learned less than those watching the video

The study shows that students felt more engaged with augmented reality but learned less than those watching the video

Credit: Center of Excellence in Health Communication for Underserved Populations

As virtual and augmented reality move into more prominent roles in everyday life, scientists hope to determine how effective work is in the classroom. A new study from the University of Kansas found that an augmented reality lesson scored highly among users, who reported feeling more engaged with the content than a video lesson. However, objective data showed that those who interacted with the AR paradigm learned less than those who watched the video. The findings suggest that educators should consider carefully when and how to use AR as part of the learning environment.

Mugur Gina, Associate Professor of Health Communication and Director of the Center of Excellence in Health Communication at Kuwait University for underprivileged populations, led the study in which 44 students completed a learning unit on SARS-CoV-2 virus (the infectious agent responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic). Half watched a video in which he shared information about the virus, its protein spikes, and the virus’s capsule and genome. The other half interacted with an AR model of the virus where they used a tablet to imagine a 3D model of the virus in the experiment room, where they could move around the virtual model and click on the 3D graphic. While doing so, they received audio instructions with the same information about the viral components as in the video.

“We are curious to explore how we can use mixed reality to address teaching and learning,” said Gina. “We’re all familiar, especially post-COVID, with watching things and learning on a small screen. So, we thought it would be interesting to see how we can move beyond that 2D environment.”

The study, conducted in collaboration with Dan Cernowska, associate professor of instructional design in the College of Pharmacy, North Dakota State University, and Pan Liu, associate professor at Marian University, has been accepted for presentation at the 2023 International Communications Association conference in Toronto. .

Before participating in the study, the subjects answered questions about their knowledge of the virus that causes COVID-19. They were then randomly assigned to either the video or the augmented reality arm of the study. During the experiment, the participants’ eyesight was tracked on the videotape to signal their attention to the graphic elements of the video. For participants in the AR arm, the camera in the room and the camera in the tablet recorded their interaction with the 3D virtual model for later analysis. All participants were then exposed to distracting videos, after which their retention of the information presented was tested. Finally, the interviewees were given to record their experiences and reactions to the instructions.

“We were interested in the students’ interaction with the viral model for both arms of the study. We measured what graphic elements they were paying attention to and to what degree they were to both experimental treatments,” said Gina. “In the AR arm, they can take the tablet, move behind the virus, or get close or engaged at other levels. We also looked at whether they saw all of the learning modules or skipped some.”

The results indicate that although the AR model that projected representation of the virus in their physical environment was new and more engaging, this novelty likely distracted from the information it was supposed to convey. Jenna said that while the people in the video set learned more, that didn’t mean that augmented reality was not suitable for educational purposes. Instead, researchers need to understand how they can be successfully adapted and used in classroom or distance learning settings to effectively engage and inform learners.

Gina said the findings of the study were consistent with findings from previous research on augmented reality in education, while raising new questions for future projects. Upcoming studies at CEHCUP will aim to test various models for AR educational information delivery and their effectiveness.

Gena said he firmly believes that immersive visualization technology is the future. To this end, CEHCUP is hosting its first research fair featuring entirely virtual research posters presenting health communication studies from doctoral students, faculty, and alumni. The Augmented Reality event will take place from February 15th to March 15th at the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communication. All you need is a smartphone or tablet to experience the immersive search gallery.

For most of the study participants, the experience was their first exposure to a mixed reality environment. The novelty and excitement factor of exploring a virtual 3D model were notable reasons for the lower information retention observed in the AR group compared to those exposed to video, Gina said. As students become more familiar with mixed reality as part of a Everyday life, the novelty factor of this technology is likely to decrease. Therefore, the authors argue that a better understanding of its potential and more effective use in education is increasingly important.

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