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PERC 2019 Abstract Detail Page

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Abstract Title: Teaching 3D Physical Concepts Using Virtual and Augmented Reality
Abstract: Physics education researchers have begun to explore the impact virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR) tools can have on student understanding of three-dimensional concepts, such as electromagnetic fields and forces and the motions of celestial bodies. This session proposal means to bring these research efforts and their associated VR and AR experiences together in the same room to share insights into virtual environment design practices, classroom implementation, and assessment strategies. Further, it is meant to showcase to the physics education research community the current state of VR and AR applications for physics education in enhancing student understanding of 3D concepts. The first half of the session will consist of ~10-minute oral presentations in a rotating symposium format, describing the VR/AR application(s) each presenter is studying, their PER goal(s) for said application, and the findings of their project. The latter half of the session will consist of a demonstration showcase. Every presenter will have VR/AR equipment set up, ready for any participants to experience the presenters' applications for themselves, learning by example how VR and AR technologies can improve student understanding in ways previously impossible. Participants will be able to ask questions of the presenters during the demo showcase, digging deeper into the unique challenges presented in the development, implementation, and assessment of VR and AR teaching tools. To facilitate lasting impact and conversation around this topic, a write-up describing each presenter's application, research goals, current results, and (where possible) a link to a current build of their application will be collected and disseminated following the session.
Abstract Type: Talk Symposium
Session Time: Parallel Sessions Cluster II
Room: Cascade D

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Jared Canright
University of Washington
and Co-Presenter(s)
Rebecca Vieyra

Symposium Specific Information

Moderator: Jared Canright
Presentation 1 Title: Cooperative Exploration of Electric Fields and Charges using AR
Presentation 1 Authors: Steven Binz
Presentation 1 Abstract: Using modern augmented reality (AR) headsets students can create and move simulated electric charges and observe how their manipulations change the electric field in three dimensions, as well as how the charges move due to the surrounding field.  All students see the same content in the same part of the room and because this is AR, the students can also see each other - allowing natural interactions between them as if the simulated fields and charges were really in the room.  Research is ongoing but student feedback indicates that the experience is not only fun, but it also helps them understand the material.  The overall goal is to determine if we can improve student understanding by providing them with new representations that allow them to interact with concepts in ways they could not previously.
Presentation 2 Title: Teaching Gauss's Law using Virtual Reality: Motivation and Implementation
Presentation 2 Authors: Jared Canright
Presentation 2 Abstract: Virtual reality (VR) laboratory and tutorial exercises hold promise for enhancing student understanding of 3D concepts and phenomena, especially those that are otherwise difficult or impossible to experience directly. Gauss's Law poses difficulties for students that have proven resilient to many forms of instructional intervention. This work presents data that highlight particular student difficulties with the concepts underlying correct understanding and application of Gauss's Law and provide a backdrop
to motivate the development of a VR learning environment on this topic. Further, we describe, from instructional and software development perspectives, the design and implementation of virtual exercises and tools to elicit and confront these difficulties in the virtual learning environment.
Presentation 3 Title: Supporting Students' Visualization of Magnetic Fields with Smartphones and AR
Presentation 3 Authors: Chrystian Vieyra & Rebecca Vieyra
Presentation 3 Abstract: Using only a smartphone, we have developed an app that permits learners to anchor magnetometer measurements to 3-D space that can be viewed through the camera. We have prepared a series of exploration protocols that help users explore background and non-idealized magnetic fields. Our preliminary work with users suggests that exploration with this technology helps students to think critically about the limitations of idealized field models and recognize the complexity of environmental fields.
Presentation 4 Title: A controlled study of Smartphone-based Virtual Reality in Freshman Electricity and Magnetism
Presentation 4 Authors: Chris Porter, Chris Orban, Amber Simmons, and Joseph Smith
Presentation 4 Abstract: Our group has developed a series of virtual reality apps for smartphones in Google Cardboard headsets to help students visualize electric fields, magnetic fields, and related structures, such as Gaussian surfaces. We prepared sets of highly 3D questions in these areas to function as pre- and posttests. While these sets are exploratory, we will discuss their reliability. In addition to a VR treatment group, one group worked with nearly identical material on a traditional computer screen, and a third group acted as a control, receiving only 2D static images as in a textbook. We present selected findings in student performance on the pre- and posttests, as well as student feedback on the treatments.