Augmented Reality Sandboxes: Determining Efficacy as a Pedagogical Tool in Intro Geology Courses

Wednesday 4:30pm-5:45pm Student Union: Ballroom B
Poster Session Part of Wednesday Session


matt smith, University of Kansas Main Campus
Alison Olcott Marshall, University of Kansas Main Campus
Though the majority of students who take formal geology courses in a post-secondary setting are not intending to pursue geology as a career, these students are expected to use spatial visualization skills in order to successfully learn, if not master, certain geological skills and concepts. Though spatial ability and three dimensional thinking are involved in other subject areas (such as biology, art, and geography), there are certain spatial abilities needed to understand three dimensional geologic structures and their interaction with three dimensional topographic surfaces which are specific to the geosciences. There are measurable differences in spatialization abilities among people, and not everyone possesses spatial ability skills that are helpful in understanding certain geologic concepts.
Engaging students with geologic content in a classroom in an active learning environment and utilizing augmented and virtual reality to assist natural spatial ability may allow students to more quickly grasp certain geologic concepts without the need for taking time to train spatial ability in already limited time periods, especially with students that do not have opportunity to regularly utilize spatial ability and skills in other subjects. Augmented and virtual reality are tools which can be used to supplement an individual's ability to visualize in three dimensions, showing an individual what they may be unable to or have trouble visualizing. One such tool that could be utilized in an introductory geoscience classroom is the augmented reality sandbox (sandbox), as developed by Oliver Kreylos. Though these sandboxes have existed and seen use in classrooms and as educational displays for several years, there has not been much quantitative assessment of their efficacy as a pedagogical tool. Here, I present my plan and initial work in developing ways of assessing student learning and usefulness of the sandbox as a teaching tool in introductory geology courses.