Culturally Relevant Virtual Reality for Science Classrooms


Virtual reality represents a new direction in technological advancements for educational research. While education has been slow to adopt new technology, educational technology companies have been slow to collaborate with teachers to produce pedagogically valuable resources. This project explores house science educators and science researchers collaborate to produce virtual reality instructional materials for the modern science students. What this means Is that educators can think critically about how technology can become a useful tool for building culturally relevant virtual reality instructional materials. At the 2019 conference for the National Association of researchers of science teaching, we presented a number of new research studies. The studies are here for you to review and share broadly.


For those of you who visited our talk at the annual meeting of the National Association of Research in Science Teaching we would like to share our work. Below you will find summaries of each of our project with the corresponding research manuscript. We hope you will read these manuscripts and give us your opinion on the work. We look forward to future conversations about how to use VR to improve modern science education.


Culturally-Relevant Virtual Reality Learning: Bridging Culture and Context
School districts and state boards are rushing to integrate learning technology into their science classrooms as part of new standards (i.e., NGSS Lead States, 2013). However, K-12 teachers have been reluctant to integrate technology into their instructional designs (Baran, 2014; Goldin & Katz, 2007). The distance between teachers’ beliefs about teaching and learning and the design and implementation of learning technologies raise alarms (Epstein & Miller, 2011; Ogunniyi, 2011). We are concerned about how technology designed for science teaching addresses the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse communities. Given recent scholarship on how technologies increase student achievement and interest in school-based science (Crook, Sharma, & Wilson, 2015; Thisgaard & Makransky, 2017), the question remains: How can we make these findings relevant for diverse students?
This proposed paper set includes four manuscripts that collectively extend Mayer’s (2002) multimedia learning framework through integrating culturally relevant principles (Ladson-Billings, 1995a) within virtual reality (VR) science lessons (see Figure 1 below). These culturally relevant elements include (i) experiencing academic success; (ii) development and maintenance of cultural integrity; (iii) fostering a critical consciousness (Ladson-Billings, 1995). Mayer’s (2002) theories have suggested that cognitive processing is initiated when sounds and images act as stimuli. He also argues for the benefits of multimedia learning, regardless of the population, when students are afforded the opportunity to activate previously existing cognitive schema and process these inputs in relation to prior knowledge. This process accesses and indexes prior knowledge with images and sounds in the multimedia space homogenously (Mayer, 1997).

The issue that emerges is how particular images and sounds can potentially change the learning experience for diverse population of students. In lieu of assuming homogeneity, Figure 1 is an amended multimedia learning framework that provides three key extensions to Mayer’s (2002) conception of learning: (i) If images and sounds are introduced in students cultural context, (ii) they should offer relevant learning contexts, and (iii) students will experience improved recall as culturally specific images and sounds trigger culturally relevant prior knowledge. Together, this proposed paper set reports a sequence of qualitative and quantitative research projects over 2 years that studied the transition from the design of VR technology in science to the implementation and assessment of their effectiveness in teaching science to students of color.


How Impactful is Culturally Relevant VR for Diverse Students?: A Mixed-Methods Quasi-Experimental Study





Finding Meaning in Science through Culturally Relevant VR:Critical Understandings of Science Among Diverse Elementary Students



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