ENHANCING A LOW-COST VIRTUAL REALITY APPLICATION THROUGH CONSTRUCTIVIST APPROACH: THE CASE OF SPATIAL TRAINING OF MIDDLE GRADERS
The aim of this study is to develop and to test a low-cost virtual reality spatial trainer in terms of its effectiveness in spatial training. The researchers adopted three features deriving from the constructivist perspective to guide the design of the trainer, namely interaction, instruction, and support. The no control pre test post test experimental procedure was used as the research design involving a sample, which comprised a class of 35 middle graders (15 girls and 20 boys) with mean age of 15.5 years. The researchers hypothesized that there would be a significant improvement in spatial visualization after training and the three training attributes would receive different ratings from the participants. The research instruments used were Spatial Visualization Test (for pre-testing and post-testing) and usability survey questionnaire. The participants used the trainer for four consecutive weeks, with each session lasting for three hours. Data collected were analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS). Result of a paired samples t-test indicated that the participants had made significant improvement after training, thus supporting the first research hypothesis. However, the results of independent samples t-test did not support the second hypothesis, where all the three training features were rated equally. Interestingly, subtle but significant orientations were detected, where the instructive and interactive features were rated differently by girls and boys, respectively. The researchers also discuss the practical implications of the low-cost virtual reality application for spatial training by proposing a set of design guidelines.