Virtual Reality in STEM Teaching – End of project update

A year down the line with our Teaching Innovation Award and we are very proud of how far we have come. What was once a ‘pie in the sky’ idea to create our own Loughborough STEM subject specific virtual reality application has come true and its going even further as we have been awarded a follow up TIA to extend it with different disciplines and onto a module.

The project was to test the concept of using virtual reality in lab teaching, primarily as a pre-lab exercise. We created an application based on the Chemistry experiment ‘Absorption Spectrophotometry’ that was based on the students completing 3 rooms in virtual reality.

The student first enters the ‘Familiarisation room’ where they put on their lab coat, get used to the environment and carry out short tasks like identifying apparatus.

They then enter the room that is most like a lab the ‘Experiment room’ and carry out the experiment using objects in a similar way that they would in the lab but with instructions and graphs on the walls around them for context.

Finally, the students, once getting the correct answer in their experiment, enter the ‘Advanced Molecular room’ where they can look at magnified versions of the atom structures, turn them around and examine their centre of symmetry.

Interwoven into all of this are 360° pictures of our very own STEMLab so the students have a connection to the labs they learn in.

Our student developer Nik Demosthenous was fantastic, he helped bring the academic content to life we are very grateful to him and think it’s great to be able to tap into the talent we have in our student body within these sorts of projects.

So, did we prove the concept was worthwhile? We think so!

We carried out two lots of student tests, with a total of 20 Chemistry student testers who completed surveys before and after using the VR to compare results.

We will be presenting our findings at this year’s Learning and Teaching conference, but the main headline is 80% of the students want more virtual reality and all reported that they felt the VR had improved their learning.

Author: Samantha Chester