The utility of 3D, haptic-enabled, virtual reality technologies for student knowledge gains in the complex biological system of the human heart

Rebecca L. Hite, Melissa Gail Jones, Gina M. Childers, Megan E. Ennes, Katherine M. Chesnutt, Mariana Pereyra, Emily M. Cayton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Knowledge of the structure and function of the human heart is fundamental to accurately understanding human physiology. As a complex biological system, naïve conceptions abound regarding cardiac anatomy and physiology for K-12 learners and medical students alike. Objective: Textbooks and lectures, as well models and simulations, have had limited success in aiding learners in constructing accurate and cohesive knowledge of the human heart. Three dimensional (3D) modelling, haptic-enabled (HE) feedback, and interactive virtual reality (VR) experiences aid tertiary learners, yet it is unknown if secondary learners benefit from learning with these technologies. Methods: An exploratory study examined secondary student knowledge of cardiac anatomy and physiology after participation in an interactive lesson on cardiac structure and function using a 3D, HE, VR technology system. Students from sixth grade (11–12 years old; n = 75) and ninth grade (14–15 years old; n = 76) completed a pre- and post-assessment on cardiac knowledge, anatomy, and physiology punctuated by technology-delivered instruction on the human heart. Results and Conclusions: Significant gains were found in knowledge from both groups in cardiac anatomy and blood circulation within the chambers of the heart; however, only ninth grade students demonstrated significant knowledge gains in pulmonary circulation. Takeaways: Results suggest that 3D HE VR technologies provide learners robust representations of and student-driven interactions with complex biological systems that are innovative instructionally for strong conceptual and systematic learning. This study offers insight on technology-assisted science visualizations for the promotion of knowledge acquisition and systems thinking of the human heart among secondary science students.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)651-667
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Computer Assisted Learning
Volume38
Issue number3
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • 3D
  • biology
  • haptics
  • secondary science
  • systems thinking
  • virtual reality

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