JUCS - Journal of Universal Computer Science 26(8): 929-946, doi: 10.3897/jucs.2020.050
Influence of Virtual Reality on High School Students' Conceptions of Cells
expand article infoMeredith Thompson, Annie Wang, Cigdem Uz Bilgin, Melat Anteneh, Dan Roy, Philip Tan, Rik Eberhart, Eric Klopfer
‡ Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, United States of America
Open Access
Cells are central to the study of biology, yet many learners have difficulties understanding the abstract yet fundamental foundation of life. Research suggests that students' conceptions of cells are reinforced by current biology learning materials, which represent cells as two dimensional, highly ordered, and mostly empty. These models also inaccurately represent the number, location, and size of organelles. We examine the effect of an inquiry-based three-dimensional virtual reality (VR) game on high school students' mental models of cells. Students reported that the game was more interactive and engaging than traditional ways of learning about cells and attributed an improved understanding of cells to their game experience. Students' post drawings of cells depicted more types of organelles, increased density of organelles, and additional complexity than their pretest drawings, indicating a movement towards more accurate mental models of cells. However, students' scores did not improve on their factual knowledge about cells between the pretest and the post-game biology assessments. We discuss the implications of incorporating game-based approaches and new technologies such as VR into biology education.
virtual reality, cellular biology, high school, STEM education