10.1080/03098265.2019.1694875 ">

A multi-institutional study of inquiry-based lab activities using the Augmented Reality Sandbox: impacts on undergraduate student learning

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Publication Date



Geography and Geology

Publication Title

Journal of Geography in Higher Education


© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. We developed and tested different pedagogical treatments using an Augmented Reality (AR) Sandbox to teach introductory geoscience students about reading topographic maps at five institutions in both pilot and full implementation studies. The AR Sandbox treatments were characterized as 1) unstructured play, 2) a semi-structured lesson, and 3) a structured lesson. The success of each was contrasted with the control condition of a traditional topographic map lab without the AR Sandbox. Students completed a subset of questions from the Topographic Maps Assessment (TMA) and a series of mental rotation questions post-implementation. No significant differences were found on TMA post-test scores between groups who used the unstructured Sandbox play treatment compared to the control condition. Semi-structured and structured lesson formats similarly failed to produce a statistically significant difference on the TMA post-test. This indicates that no single treatment worked universally better than another. However, regression analysis showed two factors significantly predicted performance on the TMA, including spatial performance and self-assessed knowledge (or confidence) of topographic maps. Of the groups that used the Sandbox, students with low and high scores on the mental rotation test performed best on the TMA following the structured treatment.

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