Virtual reality in the k-12 classroom
This dissertation explores the effectiveness of VR as an instructional tool in formal educational settings. Three manuscripts each deal with a different aspect of integrating virtual reality into a middle/high school classroom;Although, there are no plug-and-play virtual reality solutions currently available to the K-12 teacher, there are easy ways to teach concepts related to VR. The first article discusses the hardware, software, resources and concepts needed to integrate Desktop VR into the technology classroom with a minimal investment of resources;The second article reports results from a study comparing traditional, model and virtual reality teaching environments. These environments teach concepts regarding simple machines to volunteers from an eighth-grade science class. Nonparametric tests showed a statistically significant concept gain, as measured by scores from concept maps, for students in the model and VR environments;Cognitive theories of Multimedia Learning, Dual-Coding Theory and Levels of Processing Theory in graphic, model and VR environments are explored in the third article. Students in all three environments showed significant gains from pretest to post-test supporting dual-coding theory and levels of processing theory. Lower test scores for students in the graphics group can be accounted for by the amount of skill needed to mentally construct three-dimensional images from two-dimensional graphics.