ANCIENT ARCHITECTURE IN VIRTUAL REALITY DOES IMMERSION REALLY AID LEARNING?
This study explored whether students benefited from an immersive panoramic display while studying subject matter that is visually complex and information-rich. Specifically, middle-school students learned about ancient Egyptian art and society using an educational learning game, Gates of Horus, which is based on a simplified three dimensional computer model of an Egyptian temple. First, we demonstrated that the game is an effective learning tool by comparing written post-test results from students who played the game and students in a no-treatment control group. Next, we compared the learning results of two groups of students who used the same mechanical controls to navigate through the computer model of the temple and to interact with its features. One of the groups saw the temple on a standard computer desktop monitor while the other-saw it in a visually immersive display (a partial dome) The major difference in the test results between the two groups appeared when the students gave a verbal show-and-tell presentation about the Temple and the facts and concepts related to it. During that exercise, the students had no cognitive scaffolding other than the Virtual Egyptian Temple which was projected on a wall. The student navigated through the temple and described its major features. Students who had used the visually immersive display volunteered notably more than those who had used a computer monitor. The other major tests were questionnaires, which by their nature provide a great deal of scaffolding for the task of recalling the required information. For these tests we believe that this scaffolding aided students' recall to the point where it overwhelmed the differences produced by any difference in the display. We conclude that the immersive display provides better supports for the student's learning activities for this material. To our knowledge, this is the first formal study to show concrete evidence that visual immersion can improve learning for a non-science topic.
Advisor:Lowry Burgess; Stephen Hirtle; Michael Lewis; Kurt VanLehn; Peter Brusilovsky
School:University of Pittsburgh
School Location:USA - Pennsylvania
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Date of Publication:07/07/2008