Comparison of student learning about space in immersive and computer environments
This paper is the summary of the external evaluation of We Choose Space, a 24-minute planetarium show for audiences “who dream of space and wonder about human spaceflight after Shuttle,” in which we compared the student learning about space in digital and computer environments immediately afterwards and six weeks later. Paired t-tests and an independent t-test were used to compare the amount of learning that students achieved on the questionnaire. Interest questionnaires were administered to participants in formal (public school) settings and focus groups were conducted in informal (museum camp and educational festival) settings. Overall results from the informal and formal educational setting indicated that there was a statistically significant increase in test scores after viewing We Choose Space in both the portable Discovery Dome (9.75) as well as via the computer (8.88), when tested immediately after viewing. Most importantly, however, long-term retention of the material tested on the questionnaire was significantly better for the students who viewed it in the portable dome over those who learned by computer. Six weeks after viewing the content, the Dome students retained their gains in test scores (10.47), whereas computer-using students had lost most of their gain (3.49), and the improvements over the initial baseline for the computer learners were not statistically significant.
Zimmerman, L., Spillane, S., Reiff, P., & Summers, C. (2014). Comparison of student learning about space in immersive and computer environments. Journal and Review of Astronomy Education and Outreach, 1(1), A5-A20