The University of Kentucky Center for Visualization & Virtual Environments

Evaluating Educational Utility and Learner
Articulation of Immersive Environments

Evaluating Education Applications

Joan Mazur
Cindy Lio
Christopher Jaynes


National Science Foundation

To explore the educational utility, practical capabilities and instructional applications of immersive environments
To assess design criteria and evaluate user experiences
To develop educational techniques and strategies within collaborative spaces
To assess the impact of technology on development of key ideas in areas of distance learning and digital libraries

Educational Research Questions
How might an immersive environment be used for collaboration in a particular context?
For what specific types of problems or content would visual immersive displays be useful for conveying or exploring particular concepts or principles?
What drawbacks and/or benefits might accrue from the use of such an immersive environment?

Learner Articulation
Learner articulation, described variously in the literature on cognition and instruction as self-explanation or self-directed generative summarization, contributes to new learning through the process of combining ideas in the course of expressing them. In an observational study conducted with a group of students in a fluid dynamics course, we examined movement, gesture and verbal explanation as the undergraduate engineering students explored in an immersive visualization display to understand concepts in basic fluid dynamics. Data from user videos, interviews, and a 3-D graphical tracking tool were analyzed. Approach, observational, and perspectival ‘move’ were in evidence to support articulation. Students’ dietic, iconic and metaphoric gestures combined with their verbalizations to achieve generative articulations regarding the content.

The research of this project brings new insights in learner articulation to the HCI arena. We believe that future studies of user feedback and explanation as learner articulation will spur HCI researchers to conduct fine-grained analyses of the physical and cognitive articulations of the ‘running models’ as users learn to interact with immersive visualization systems and the content provided within them.

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