Ms. Myrtede C. Alfred is a PhD student in the Department of Industrial Engineering at the Clemson University. She received her M.S in Industrial Engineering from Clemson University in 2013 and a BBA in Human Resources Management from Florida International University in 2009. She is graduated research assistant at Clemson University’s Center for Workforce Development and is a Clemson University Diversity Fellow. Her research focuses on the use of virtual reality in facilitating learning in online environments.
Abstract: With the increasing popularity of online education, technology such as simulations and virtual reality (VR) used for teaching students and employees may have implications for skills development and retention. It is important to understand the technological limitations as they relate to technical domains that can be effectively taught in an online setting. This research focuses on a task that is both conceptual and technical with the objective of examining whether the skills learned in an online setting would transfer. Specifically, my study evaluated how an individual’s performance on a task (i.e., the building an electrical circuit) differs depending on the physical fidelity of the learning environment (e.g., a 2D breadboard simulation, a 3D virtual breadboard, and a physical breadboard). The results suggest that while transfer (i.e., application) occurs in all conditions, students in the physical environment were more proficient (e.g., greater overall success and shorter construction times). Additionally cognitive ability and learning goal orientation were significant predictors of performance gain scores and circuit diagram accuracy. The influence of learner engagement, which was evaluated both as an independent and outcome variable, is currently being analyzed. An ongoing qualitative component of this research seeks a deeper understanding of these differences in performance in terms of the mental models employed, subtask goals, and the processes used by students as they completed or attempted the construction task.