Immersive VR for Organic Chemistry: Impacts on Performance and Grades for First-Generation and Continuing-Generation University Students

Michelle D. Miller, Giovanni Castillo, Norman Medoff, Alexis Hardy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Rapid advances in the quality and accessibility of immersive virtual reality (IVR) have brought about intense interest in applications of the technology within higher education, including STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) teaching and learning. However, evidence is mixed on the effectiveness of IVR for STEM teaching and learning, and there are currently few models of how best to incorporate these activities into typical STEM courses. We created a sequence of IVR activities for teaching concepts in organic chemistry and carried out an experimental investigation on the impacts of these on student performance, with special focus on student characteristics including first-generation college student status, gender, and ethnicity. Two sections of Organic Chemistry were compared; in one randomly assigned section, students had the option of completing these IVR activities, and in the other, they did not. Results showed a trend towards improved course grades and final exam scores in the section offered IVR activities, particularly for first-generation college students. These findings suggest that IVR can be a practical and effective way to reinforce learning and student success in realistic university STEM settings, especially for certain demographic subgroups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInnovative Higher Education
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • Chemistry education
  • Educational technology
  • Immersive virtual reality
  • STEM education
  • Virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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