Exploring the Role of Viewing Technologies in the Chemistry Classroom
Spatial ability is an important tool in chemistry and this ability can be improved. Various technologies have been used to improve spatial ability. However, it is not clear if viewing technologies should take the place of the model kit; the traditional method of learning about molecular structures. Our research aims to address this gap. In our study, we aimed to take advantage of student affinity to technology to drive spatial ability improvements (in the context of chemistry) by having students experience molecules in virtual space using modern viewing technologies (WBVE, AR, and VR). Students were first engaged with the technologies then were assessed to see if their ability to solve problems relating to 3D-molecular structure improved. The mean spatial ability of students improved over the course of the semester (permutation test, p < 0.05) and students using model kits scored higher than those using the technologies (t-test, p < 0.05). The collection and assessment of anonymous, aggregated, student responses for this study was conducted with the approval of the University of Calgary ethics board (REB13-0724).
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