May 23, 2011

Past Research

More than twenty-four years ago, the US National Science Foundation (NSF) convened a panel to report on the potential of visualization, including both 2D and 3D projection. This initial effort created a tremendous surge of research by greatly boosting funding for computer-based visualization. I've spent many hours skimming through some of the educational research specific to 3D visualization, which is chiefly focused on the post-graduate environment, and have generally seen learning gains in the 20-30% range, as well as favorable determinations in terms of learner retention and transfer. You can review much of this research by using Google Scholar or generic Google Search and the following search keyword string:  stereoscopic “3D visualization” research study findings NSF. (Scholar will give you a higher class of refereed publications, while Search will open a broader set of public resources for your examination. And please, if you have a better search string—post it in the blog comments area—so that we can all benefit.)

In 2004, the NSF and US National Institutes of Health convened the Visualization Research Challenges Executive Committee to develop a key report on visualization's potential, whether 2D or 3D, as a technology. Two other interesting papers on some of the challenges we face with 2D and 3D visualization are attached or referenced below:

Research in K12
Until recently, research on stereoscopic 3D in K-12 education has been noticeably sparse. Two of the limited research efforts to date have involved a study out of UC Davis and another out of Illinois. The most recent UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center Study (2010) demonstrated some interesting results in terms of knowledge gains and attitude/perception benefits. It also has a useful literature review (see page 11).

The second study involved a large, state-funded effort focused on the use of 3D interactive simulation in math and science, The study, entitled the Classroom Cubed Illinois Initiative, was conducted by Dr. Lloyd Kilmer from Western Illinois University (2007). The pre- and post-test results of over 1,070 students provided the following subgroup data, indicating some potential for reducing stubborn historical achievement gaps:

• Free/reduced lunch students: 32% increase
• Full paid lunch students: 31% increase
• Non-white students: 32% increase
• White students: 32% increase
• Special Education students: 31% increase
• Non-special education students: 32% increase
• Female students: 35% increase
• Male students: 29% increase
• Math ISAT students currently below state standards: 31% increase
• Math ISAT students currently meeting state standards: 33% increase
• Math ISAT students currently exceeding state standards: 30% increase

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