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Running head: COMPARING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF AR VS TRADITIONAL DISSECTION ON LEARNING

FROG ANATOMY 1

A Comparison of the Effectiveness of Augmented Reality vs Traditional Dissection on


Learning Frog Anatomy in Grade Nine Science Labs

Patrick Conlan, Derek Cowan, Mable Hong, and Craig Murrell

University of British Columbia

MET Program

ETEC 500 Section 65 A

Dr. Sunah Cho Group

Assignment #3 Research Proposal

Abstract Word Count 119


Proposal Word Count 1981
COMPARING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF AR VS TRADITIONAL DISSECTION ON LEARNING FROG ANATOMY 2

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to compare the effectiveness of augmented reality vs traditional

dissections on the learning and retention of knowledge related to frog anatomy. Subjects are

420 grade 9 secondary students from 7 schools in Vancouver School District in British

Columbia, Canada. An experimental pre-unit assessment, post-unit assessment and delayed

post-unit assessment control group design is used in the study. Student performance will be

analyzed using the repeated-measures factorial multivariate analysis of covariance

(MANCOVA) statistical technique. The results of the study are expected to indicate that the

AR-facilitated dissection provides a viable alternative to physical dissection by facilitating

moderate learning increases and may appeal to teachers and students for various practical

and/or ethical reasons.

Keywords: adolescent, augmented reality, biology, computer-aided instruction,


dissection, frog dissection, virtual reality
COMPARING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF AR VS TRADITIONAL DISSECTION ON LEARNING FROG ANATOMY 3

A Comparison of the Effectiveness of Augmented Reality vs Traditional Dissection on


Learning Frog Anatomy in Grade Nine Science Labs

Objectives and Purpose of the Study

The use of Augmented Reality (AR) technology is poised to be the next big step

forward in education as it enables educators to capture the attention of their students in a

collaborative virtual environment, while maintaining presence in the classroom environment.

AR has many unique affordances to offer to education, including the ability to interactively

model virtual learning objects into the real world and allow groups of students to interact

with these objects collaboratively. One possible application of this new technology is in the

science lab for secondary education. Most science labs in America still teach anatomy and

biology by having students perform a dissection on an animal cadaver, however, there are

cost, ethical, safety and personal challenges to using animals for this purpose in the classroom

(Osenkowski et al, 2015). In many cases, technology is being used to replace animal

dissections in the lab, including the use of video and mobile apps with animated 3D images.

Many teachers and students report that these technologies often do not provide an authentic

replacement of animal cadaver dissection, however (Cross & Cross, 2004; Osenkowski et al,

2015). AR technology affords the students with information and experiences that are not

possible in an animal cadaver dissection, such as seeing how the living organs operate, while

maintaining a level of immersion not available in current technological replacements. This

blending of a virtual learning object with appended learning materials has the potential to

provide a more robust learning experience for the students than a real dissection can afford.

The purpose of this study will be to measure and compare the academic performance, in pre-

unit assessment, post-unit assessment and delayed post-unit assessment, of students who

received the AR-based animal dissection unit against students who performed a traditional
COMPARING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF AR VS TRADITIONAL DISSECTION ON LEARNING FROG ANATOMY 4

dissection, within the curriculum of 9th grade students from 7 schools of the researchers

district.

Research Questions

1. Can AR teaching methods improve students academic performance compared

with the traditional teaching methods?

2. Will students retain more knowledge, within the AR group, as opposed to the

traditional teaching group?

Hypothesis

Ninth grade students who receive the AR dissection unit will demonstrate a moderate

increase in academic performance over students who received the traditional dissection unit,

based on post teaching assessment. Additionally, students who received the AR dissection

unit will demonstrate moderately higher rates of retention, based on the delayed assessment.

Assumptions

1. An AR learning platform for frog dissection will be developed using a suitable

and cost-effective AR platform, similar to the popular Frog Dissection (2011) app

or V-Frog (2011).

2. A suitable AR presentation platform will be employed, such as Microsoft

HoloLens.

3. Students and teachers will receive instruction on how to use the technology.

Perspective and Theoretical Framework

The physical dissection of animals is a common teaching method for anatomical

learning. However, recent concerns have led some educators to develop alternative methods.

Technologies allowing for virtual dissections have been developed, but studies of their

effectiveness have produced inconsistent results (Lalley, Piotrowski, Battaglia, Brophy, &

Chugh, 2010). Augmented Reality (AR) technologies offer a new viable direction to develop
COMPARING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF AR VS TRADITIONAL DISSECTION ON LEARNING FROG ANATOMY 5

an effective replacement, but research of ARs effectiveness in science education is currently

limited.

Cadaver-based dissections have remained the traditional method of anatomical study

(Montgomery, 2008), however there are cost, cultural, religious, ethical, safety, and personal

challenges to using animals for this purpose in the classroom (Osenkowski, Green, Tjaden, &

Cunniff, 2015). The use of Virtual Reality (VR) to replace animal dissections in science labs

often do not provide a unique and authentic experience (Montgomery, 2008; Osenkowski et

al., 2015). Additionally, that students and teachers attitudes lean towards mostly positive

experiences with actual dissections. In contrary, some advantages for alternative teaching

methods include reduction in teaching times, cost associated with purchasing animals,

increased opportunities for students to practice skills, greater flexibility in terms of time

management and ethical concerns of harming animal will be removed (Lalley et al., 2010;

Osenkowski et al., 2015; Kk, Kapakin, and Gkta, 2016).

Due to the issues of ethics and cost listed above, educators sought alternate methods to

cadaver-based dissections. One of the earliest methods utilized VR-based technology. Cross

& Cross (2004) examined the efficacy of using VR-based dissections for AP biology students

and found that students who received VR-based instruction performed significantly worse

than the control group in a cadaver-based practicum but equivalent in a VR-based practicum.

Montgomery (2008) compared the VR-based dissection against cadaver-based dissection and

found that there was no significant difference between the two conditions on the general

knowledge test posttest, but there was a significant difference on the lab practicum test. It is

important to note that, like Cross & Cross (2004), the lab practicum was conducted using a

cadaver as the test subject. These results were also analyzed in relation to gender, grade level,

and ethnicity. In regard to these three variables, no significant differences between related

subgroups were noted. Lalley et al. (2010) found that students who performed virtual
COMPARING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF AR VS TRADITIONAL DISSECTION ON LEARNING FROG ANATOMY 6

dissection had higher scores on the immediate post-test. They also advocate that virtual

dissection provides additional learning opportunities because students can use the virtual tool

multiple times, whereas physical specimens can only be used once. Lalley et al. (2010),

concluded, the implication for teaching is that virtual dissection is a viable alternative to

physical dissection, and that using both virtual and physical dissection would likely produce

better learning outcomes than either would individually (p. 197).

Within our search for literary references we discovered that there were numerous

papers on the effectiveness of AR within a science curriculum. Each area of research found

that AR provided a similar or more beneficial environment for student learning. Hung, Chen,

and Huang (2016) found that AR learning for fifth grade students on the topic of bacterial

knowledge produced beneficial learning results and an increase in learning motivation. Prez-

Lpez & Contero (2013) identified that the use of AR learning systems for digestive and

circulatory topics were on par with traditional learning but produced more pronounced results

for long-term retention. Kk et al. (2016) observed that learning anatomy for medical

students with AR as opposed to traditional textbooks produced better assessment results and a

higher satisfaction to their learning experience. Ferrer-Torregrosa, Torralba, Jimenez, Garca,

and Barcia (2015) also identified overall positive results for AR learning for medical students

in the area of anatomy learning. These papers provide a starting point for AR learning in

other areas of science-based curriculum.

Related research offers a possible rationale to develop a technology-based physical

dissection alternative. While some research of virtual methods has demonstrated benefits, the

results overall have been inconsistent. AR offers a promising new teaching tool for

dissections but current research of its effectiveness is limited to comparisons with traditional

teaching methods such as the use of textbooks and lectures. Research needs to be conducted

to determine ARs educational value with regards to its effectiveness of teaching dissections.
COMPARING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF AR VS TRADITIONAL DISSECTION ON LEARNING FROG ANATOMY 7

Description of Methods

Design

An experimental pre-unit assessment, post-unit assessment and delayed post-unit

assessment control group design will be used in the study to examine whether AR teaching

methods improve students academic performance compared with traditional teaching

methods. A delayed post-unit assessment will measure knowledge retention between the two

groups. The independent variable for the study will be the two different types of teaching

method (AR-based dissection or traditional dissection). The dependent variables are the

academic performance of the students.

The experimental group will use ARbased teaching methods for dissection and the

control group will use the traditional teaching method on dissection. Students will be

randomly assigned to either group following the same grade 9 curriculum unit to complete

three, 45 minutes long lessons on frog dissection. Prior to the study, all students will be

given a pre-unit assessment on the contents of the lesson and immediately after the lesson

students will be given the a post-unit assessment. A delayed post-unit assessment will be

administered 1 week after the post-unit assessment. All assessments will be similar but not

identical, this is to prevent students from memorizing the questions or copying the answers.

Participants

The study group will consist approximately 420 grade 9 secondary students from 7

schools in Vancouver School District of British Columbia, Canada. The research will use

proportional stratified random sampling to ensure that a proper proportional representation of

population subgroups was studied. The students will be from secondary schools that are from

a mix of socioeconomic backgrounds. 60 students within 2 courses (30 students per) at each

school will be randomly selected to participate in the study. Those students will then be

randomly assigned to an evenly numbered control or experimental group.


COMPARING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF AR VS TRADITIONAL DISSECTION ON LEARNING FROG ANATOMY 8

Instrumentation

For the implementation of our AR-based virtual dissection we will use pre-established

technologies for the core of the technology. The most promising and flexible framework is

the ARToolKit (2017). This toolkit will allow us to create a customized environment that will

simulate the frog dissection. With the combination of the ARToolKit, specialized frog

dissection content, visual markers, and multiple computing platforms we will deliver a unique

learning experience for our research. Since our AR approach is custom built, a period of

development will exist before being used within the classrooms.

Data Analysis

The collected data will be analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Science

(SPSS). To analyze academic performance and retention of knowledge, the repeated-

measures factorial multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA) statistical technique will

be used. The statistical differences on the multiple dependent variables will be assessed by

the independent grouping variable, and the pre-unit assessments will be used as the covariate.

Description of Data Sources

Students and guardians will be given informed consents statements approved by the

University of British Columbia. The researcher will receive permission from each participant

(including instructors, students and school administration) to collect quantitative data. Data

collection instruments will be in the form of a 15 questions multiple-choice pre-unit

assessment, post-unit assessment and delayed post-unit assessment developed by the

researchers. Each assessment will cover content related to the life cycle, anatomy, and organ

function of the frog. The post-unit and delayed-post unit assessments will be similar, but not

identical to the pre-unit assessment. This will be to prevent students from memorizing

questions or copying down answers for later use and thus potentially contaminating the
COMPARING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF AR VS TRADITIONAL DISSECTION ON LEARNING FROG ANATOMY 9

results of the study. All assessments will be scored, compiled according to method of

dissection and recorded confidentially.

Results and Conclusions

We have found through our extensive literary reviews that there is a correlation

between between using technology for biology/anatomy lessons and student performance

(Cross & Cross, 2004; Lalley et al., 2010; Kk, 2016; Montgomery, 2008; Prez-Lpez &

Contero, 2013). The expected results for our proposed research experiment in AR and frog

dissection will fall in line with the previous conclusions from different but related research

topics. Student learning and knowledge retention will see a significant increase using AR

versus a control group. We also anticipate that the further development of AR platforms and

environments will cultivate an even larger variance in data results once the learning method

matures. Our research will fill a void in the area of research around using AR for hands-on

science learning that has yet to be explored. The results of our research will support the need

for more exploration into the unique capabilities of AR in the classroom.

Educational Significance

AR allows educators to immerse students within authentic virtual representations while

maintaining the benefits of constructing knowledge in a physical and collaborative learning

environment. The blending of virtual and physical learning materials has the potential to

provide robust learning experiences for students. By demonstrating that an AR-based

dissection can improve academic performance in relation to anatomical learning, educators

will have an effective alternative to the traditional instructional method of physical

dissection. AR-based dissections could be used to supplement, or even replace, traditional

methods providing educators with greater flexibility in addressing cost, cultural, religious,

ethical, safety, and personal challenges related to physical dissections (Osenkowski, Green,

Tjaden, & Cunniff, 2015). Students would also have an increased opportunity to engage in
COMPARING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF AR VS TRADITIONAL DISSECTION ON LEARNING FROG ANATOMY 10

anatomical learning by repeatedly utilizing the AR technology, adding to its educational

potential.
COMPARING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF AR VS TRADITIONAL DISSECTION ON LEARNING FROG ANATOMY 11

References

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Cross, T. R., & Cross, V. E. (2004). Scalpel or mouse? A statistical comparison of real &

virtual frog dissections. The American Biology Teacher, 66(6), 409-411.

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