May 19, 2017
Texas Tech University professor Rebecca Hite recently was honored with “Best Paper” in Applied Research in Immersive Environments for Learning at the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting in San Antonio for her study, “Cognitive Development and Virtual Presence in 3-D, Haptic-Enabled, Virtual Reality Science Instruction.”
Hite, an assistant professor of science/STEM education in the College of Education, began her career as a high school science and geography teacher, and recognized that some of her students could not appreciate the importance of science in their lives. So she set out to offer a connection that would resonate and engage.
Her research, focused on mixed-reality learning experiences with zSpace, was presented at the Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC) and was conducted at North Carolina State University, where Hite was a doctoral student under the direction of Gail Jones.
Using data from a larger study of 151 sixth and ninth grade students with zSpace, Hite’s paper explored the relationships between students’ aspects of cognitive development and perceptions of virtual presence. Results showed that sixth grade students’ proficiency in rotating objects mentally were positively correlated with control of the objects and activities in virtual spaces. This provides insight into how students experience realism in mixed reality environments and valuable information to improve virtual learning experiences for younger learners.
Hite’s research agenda, in conjunction with Jones, is to explore the unique affordances of emergent technology. In particular, the research will be used to understand how younger and underrepresented learners, including students with disabilities, can access rich science experiences through virtual and mixed reality opportunities.
“Through continued research, we may garner insight to the power of these emergent technologies to influence STEM teaching and learning,” Hite said. “It is imperative that education stakeholders, schools, teachers, parents and students alike, are provided the more current and relevant information for best practices in virtual and blended STEM instruction.”
For more information about Hite’s research:
Virtual Reality, Actual Learning: Professor probes emergent technology use in K-12 science classrooms.
The College of Education at Texas Tech University offers a full range of programs, including 9 doctoral degrees, 10 master's degrees, two bachelor's degrees and numerous specializations which can lead to careers in public or private education as teachers, professors, administrators, counselors and diagnosticians.
Programs in the college are housed in three departments.
The Department of Curriculum & Instruction offers advanced degrees that prepare leaders, researchers, and professors with the knowledge, skills, and practical application experience needed to analyze, construct, and evaluate curricula in ways that create optimal learning conditions for all learners. Language and literacy, bilingual education and STEM education are just a few of the specializations offered by C&I.
The Department of Educational Psychology & Leadership consists of a diverse group of academic programs that equip students with a comprehensive knowledge of learning, motivation, development, and educational foundations. The disciplines of counseling and school psychology are housed within the EP&L department as are programs to prepare future college administrators, primary and secondary school and district leaders, as well as practical and academic educational psychologists.
The Department of Teacher Education focuses solely on teacher preparation, ensuring that teacher candidates are ready for the classroom on day one. The Teacher Education Department is home to TechTeach, an innovative teacher preparation program that puts teacher candidates into public school classrooms for a full year and requires that students pass teacher certification tests prior to entering the classroom. Various paths to teaching careers, including fast-track distance programs statewide and alternative certification options, are also housed in this department.Facebook