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The Use of Measurement and Neuroimaging to Examine the Learning Affordances of Virtual Reality

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The presenter of this session will discuss differences in the level of hemodynamic response (used as a proxy for ‘cognitive demand’) as it relates to three different pedagogical approaches of teaching the processes of DNA extraction in life science.

The first approach was using a video lecture approach. The second approach used an immersive virtual reality environment. The third approach was the use of a ‘hands-on’ laboratory in which the students engaged in a wet laboratory extraction.

Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRs) technology was used in this study to examine hemodynamic localization associated with each condition.

Results suggest that the group using the virtual reality laboratory had a significantly higher score on the posttest compared to the laboratory group and the virtual laboratory group did not statistically significantly differ from the real-life laboratory group related to fNIR. More importantly, measures of virtual environment hemodynamic responses did not differ from those of the ‘real-life’ laboratory in either location or intensity.

These results suggest that realistic virtual reality based environments and ‘real-life’ laboratory activities activate and produce similar amounts of processing and learning.

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The Use of Measurement and Neuroimaging to Examine the Learning Affordances of Virtual Reality

  1. 1. ‘- 1 Examining Learning While Using Virtual Reality Presented By: Richard Lamb, University at Buffalo Rebekah Lamb, Enterprise Charter School Armin St. George, Crosswater Digital Media
  2. 2. ‘- 2 Background • Information and computer technologies are considered some of the most powerful teaching tools used to support student learning in the sciences (Ertmer & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, 2013). • Education has increased the focus on the use of cognitive strategies in the higher education classroom to train and teach. • This increased focus has created the need to examine claims regarding “cognitive” pedagogical approaches and the technologies to support them.
  3. 3. ‘- 3 Background • The capstone of most teacher preparation programs is the inclusion of field experiences for preservice science teachers. • The purpose of these experiences is to expose those wishing to teach to the complexity and unpredictability of the classrooms in which they will be expected to practice. • Since the early millennium there has been increasing attention placed on modes of instruction that can supply greater realism and immersion. • The technology to make VR environments nearly indistinguishable from reality is now possible.
  4. 4. ‘- 4 Questions to the audience. • Why might VR support teaching and learning in this manner? • What does VR offer that other modes do not? • What else do you need to support learning in VR outside of the VR itself? • What other contexts might you apply this technology and pedagogy?
  5. 5. ‘- 5 Background Field experiences for preservice science teachers rest on two key assumptions; 1) inservice science teacher modeling of science teaching during field experiences creates opportunities for learning; 2) field experiences alone are sufficient in providing opportunities for preservice science teachers to combine theory and practice (Lotter, Smiley, Thompson, & Dickerson, 2016).
  6. 6. ‘- 6 Problem Context • While the elements of the assumptions guide student teaching are good, the variability in the experiences of preservice science teachers moderates the degree to which these assumptions are met. • Factors that mediate the success or shortcoming of various technologies in education are often taken for granted and left unexamined (Ellis & Goodyear, 2016). • Specifically, policy makers and leaders in the field often assume that all technology formats are equally effective at reaching students in the classroom. • Stakeholders often assume that “hand-ons” activities are superior to virtual environments (Zimmerman & Croker, 2014).
  7. 7. ‘- 7 Mission The mission of the Neurocognition Science Laboratory (NCSL) at the Graduate School of Education at the University at Buffalo North campus is to investigate and understand all aspects of cognitive growth and decline across the lifespan. This research mission draws together an interdisciplinary team of graduate students and researchers across the nation and situates the NCSL as a key driver in meeting the strategic goals of the University at Buffalo. Provides a hub for interdisciplinary research the NCSL is collaborates with related schools and centers at UB.
  8. 8. ‘- 8 fNIRs is a functional neuroimaging tool that is optimal for probing localized hemodynamic responses in cortex EEG is a test that detects electrical activity in your brain using small, flat, metal discs (electrodes) attached to your scalp.
  9. 9. ‘- 9 Imaging • Electroencephalography (EEG) • Functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRs)
  10. 10. ‘- 10 Psychophysiological Measurement • Electrocardiography • Pulse • Electroderm Activity • Skin Temperature • Respiration • Continuous Blood Pressure
  11. 11. ‘- 11 Eye tracking • Binocular Viewpoint Scene Camera and Eye tracker
  12. 12. ‘- 12 Purpose and Questions • The purpose of this study is to compare, and characterize interactive VR based preservice science teacher teaching environments with those of real-life teaching environments. • These measures will provide means to understand if cognitive processing, sensory and psychological immersion are significantly different between real-world environments and sufficiently authentic VR environments. • Identification of differences or lack of differences will provide the basis and evidence for increased use of VR environments and their underlying pedagogical approaches in preservice science teacher education programs. • Outcomes will provide evidence for potential transferability of skills between VR and real- classroom approaches.
  13. 13. ‘- 13 Approaches • Fifty-four healthy, college students, 13 males and 41 females, were randomly assigned to either clinical field conditions or VR conditions. • The classroom condition was recorded for the VR condition using a high-end VR camera with 4K resolution and overlaid with Unity code to create interactivity.
  14. 14. ‘- 14 Approaches • In filming we made use of seventh grade students enrolled in an urban charter school in the North Eastern United States. • The school is a full service K-8 school with approximately 435 students. The school itself is a charter school, one of the oldest in the area. School demographics consist of 68% African American, 31% Hispanic, and 1% Caucasian. Approximately 10% of the student population is classified as special education and 100% of the population receives free and reduced lunch. Students pass rates on state examines are typically in the mid to upper teens on end of course state exams.
  15. 15. ‘- 15 Methods Each participant’s activities were divided into three phases. Phase I: pre-exposure that lasted for 10 Minutes; Phase II: exposure for each scenario lasted for a maximum of 25 minutes per participant; Phase III: post exposure lasted for 10 Minutes.
  16. 16. ‘- 16 Methods • During the exposure stage, the preservice science teachers were measured under one of the two conditions, classroom or VR. • The instruction the preservice teachers gave was the same for both conditions. Completion of each condition was timed and had a ten-minute waiting period that allowed the hemodynamic and physiological response signal to return to baseline conditions (Afergan, Peck, Solovey, Jenkins, Hincks, Brown, & Jacob, 2014). • The identification of the type of processing associated with the participant’s activities in the classroom and VR were measured through physiological response and correlated retrospective survey outcomes. • An increase in cognitive dynamics directly relates to an increase in the amount of cognitive processing, while other physiological measures were used to establish immersion and stress levels (Afergan, Peck, Solovey, Jenkins, Hincks, Brown, & Jacob, 2014).
  17. 17. ‘- 17 Methods During the exposure stage, the preservice science teachers were measured under one of the two conditions, classroom or VR. The instruction the preservice teachers gave was the same for both conditions. The identification of the type of processing associated with the participant’s activities in the classroom and VR were measured through physiological response and correlated retrospective survey outcomes. An increase in cognitive dynamics directly relates to an increase in the amount of cognitive processing, while other physiological measures were used to establish immersion and stress levels (Afergan, Peck, Solovey, Jenkins, Hincks, Brown, & Jacob, 2014).
  18. 18. ‘- 18 Results • Conditions were not significantly different in terms of the retrospective engagement survey, psychological measures, and composite neuroimaging. • Hemodynamic response and physiological response for both groups were significantly above baseline. • Comparison of standardized activation of composite image location in Phase II Location of activation across conditions did not differ.
  19. 19. ‘- 19 Results Figure 2. Composite Heart Rate Data Figure 1. Composite activations across conditions
  20. 20. ‘- 20 Results Figure 3. Composite Galvanic Skin Response Figure 4. Survey of Engagement Results
  21. 21. ‘- 21 While the use of VR as a professional preparation tool has not been explored, this research illustrates it may be a tool that holds potential for enhancing their clinical preparation prior to entering the real world. The use of VR as a means to provide initial clinical experiences for the development and training of preservice teachers provides repeated practice of targeted skills without adverse effects with actual students. In particular the preservice teacher may compare approaches and iterate the development of these approaches more quickly i.e. in the span of hours as opposed over a semester or year. My Thoughts
  22. 22. ‘- 22 Perhaps more importantly the flexibility of scheduling and ability of preservice teachers to access a “classroom” at any time without prior arrangement and scheduling. Lastly, in addition to the ability to record preservice students in a traditional means for assessments, the digital nature of VR allows for standardization of scenarios for self, peer, and program based assessments of pedagogical and management skills all of which can be embedded in the VR scenario and underlying program. My Thoughts
  23. 23. ‘- 23 • For Schools? • For Resource Constrained Environments? • For Knowledge Applications • For Games as Learning Support Tools? • For Games as Teaching Support Tools? What are your thoughts?
  24. 24. ‘- 24 What does the project look like? Maybe this?
  25. 25. ‘- 25 THANK YOU, QUESTIONS? Author for Correspondence is: Richard Lamb Director Neurocognition Science Laboratory 218 Baldy Hall Amherst, NY 14260 rllamb@buffalo.edu 716-645-4057

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