Exploring the Efficacy of Using Augmented Reality to Alleviate Common Misconceptions about Natural Selection

Document
Description

Evidence suggests that Augmented Reality (AR) may be a powerful tool for

alleviating certain, lightly held scientific misconceptions. However, many

misconceptions surrounding the theory of evolution are deeply held

Evidence suggests that Augmented Reality (AR) may be a powerful tool for

alleviating certain, lightly held scientific misconceptions. However, many

misconceptions surrounding the theory of evolution are deeply held and resistant to

change. This study examines whether AR can serve as an effective tool for alleviating

these misconceptions by comparing the change in the number of misconceptions

expressed by users of a tablet-based version of a well-established classroom simulation to

the change in the number of misconceptions expressed by users of AR versions of the

simulation.

The use of realistic representations of objects is common for many AR

developers. However, this contradicts well-tested practices of multimedia design that

argue against the addition of unnecessary elements. This study also compared the use of

representational visualizations in AR, in this case, models of ladybug beetles, to symbolic

representations, in this case, colored circles.

To address both research questions, a one-factor, between-subjects experiment

was conducted with 189 participants randomly assigned to one of three conditions: non

AR, symbolic AR, and representational AR. Measures of change in the number and types

of misconceptions expressed, motivation, and time on task were examined using a pair of

planned orthogonal contrasts designed to test the study’s two research questions.

Participants in the AR-based condition showed a significantly smaller change in

the number of total misconceptions expressed after the treatment as well as in the number

of misconceptions related to intentionality; none of the other misconceptions examined

showed a significant difference. No significant differences were found in the total

number of misconceptions expressed between participants in the representative and

symbolic AR-based conditions, or on motivation. Contrary to the expectation that the

simulation would alleviate misconceptions, the average change in the number of

misconceptions expressed by participants increased. This is theorized to be due to the

juxtaposition of virtual and real-world entities resulting in a reduction in assumed

intentionality.