Augmented Reality Technology Used for Developing Topographic Map-Reading Skills in an Earth Science Course and its Potential Implications in Broader Learning Venues
Sarah Baumann, Leilani A. Arthurs
Journal of Science Education and Technology
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Topographic map-reading skills are critical for certain professions but can be difficult to learn. The purpose of this pilot study is to provide insight on the role augmented reality technology can play in the development of topographic map-reading skills. Using a situated cognition theoretical framework, this study tracks the development of students’ skills in three different instructional approaches using the Topographic Mapping Assessment (TMA), instructor observations, and student feedback. Using a quasi-experimental research design, 85 college-level students in eight sections of an introductory undergraduate geoscience laboratory course were assigned to a control group (n = 19) that was instructed using the standard curriculum (paper-and-pencil lab exercises and field trips), a 2-D group (n = 14) that completed six activities using 2-D maps, or an augmented reality sandbox (ARS) group (n = 52) that completed six activities requiring both 2-D maps and augmented reality technology. Results from multi-level analyses of covariance suggest no significant difference in overall post-instruction scores, except female students in the ARS groups (n = 17) tended to score higher than students in the control group (n = 11), potentially indicating this method can increase outcomes for females in STEM. Other identified instructional benefits of using the ARS include increased collaboration between students, greater visibility to the instructor of student difficulties and challenges, and improved ability for the instructor to provide real-time feedback and guidance.