List of Learning Research Projects Plans for 2023


The impact of VR/immersive technology on student learning outcomes
  • UNT Faculty Fellows: Dr. Rudi Thompson, Dr. Dorothy Bland, Dr. Priscilla Connors, Dr. Aleshia Hayes, Dr. Regina Kaplan-Rakowski, Dr. Brain Lain, Dr. Kara Fulton
  • Current and Future Projects:
    • Taking a key static assignment in an undergraduate Biology course that is tied to the course’s most high-impact learning outcome and replacing it with a dynamic mixed-reality assignment. A/B Test for learning performance gains. (Rudi Thompson)
    • Using VR in JOUR 4240-4210 to explore topics of homelessness, crisis, cultural differences in an immersive way (split design, compare to non-immersive activities) (Dorothy Bland)
    • Using VR as a substitute to field work activity in ARCH 2800 (Kara Fulton)
    • Investigating accessibility considerations in using immersive technology among visually-impaired users (Regina Kaplan-Rakowski)
    • Using gamification to educate on food waste and food safety debate (Connors, Lain)
  • Goal: Determine whether virtual or mixed reality can effect student learning of a difficult concept in contrast to a static or non-immersive modality. Preparing for Unity for Humanity grant submission for the food waste project.
  • Submitted Outputs
    • Integrating affordable, accessible, and scalable Virtual Reality (VR) in online courses, UPCEA SOLA+R 2022 Conference Presentation, April 11-12, Orlando, FL, accepted
    • Implementing low-cost immersive 360° video technology to promote core skills in journalism courses, Submitted and under Review, Journalism and Mass Communication Educator.
  • Timeline: October 2020 - present
Using the web conferencing tool Engageli in an academic setting
  • Faculty Fellow: Dr. Debbie Cockerham, Dr. Brian Lain
  • Current Project: We are investigating the impact of piloting a tool specifically designed for distance education conferencing has on student engagement in learning, content knowledge, and attitudes toward technology. We will also assess the ease of use of the technology and the feasibility of introducing it in a classroom setting.
  • Goals: This study intends to understand the use of a video conferencing software technology, Engageli, that has specifically been designed for an academic setting. Student experiences with this platform will be examined in a higher education setting and will help answer the following learning outcomes:
    • Student engagement (in learning)
    • Retention of content knowledge
    • Impact on grades
    • Satisfaction with technology
    • Ease of use and navigation
    • Feasibility of the software in an academic setting
    • Synchronous and Asynchronous support of learning
    • And other non-personal identifiable metadata from the software platform to understand the features and tool functionalities (such as hand raise, feedback, camera on versus off, polls, etc.)
  • Research Questions:
    • What are the attitudes of student (learning) towards this new technology?
    • How feasible is the utilization and adaptation of the Engageli platform in a class setting?
    • How usable is the Engageli platform, including the ease of learning, satisfaction, and navigation through the technology?
    • How do Zoom and Engageli compare on different learning outcomes (grade, content knowledge, comparative technology features, synchronous and asynchronous learning)?
  • Timeline: January 2022 - present
Sage 230 Active Learning Classroom Technology, Chemistry Learning Outcomes, and Accessibility Concerns
  • Faculty Fellow: Dr. Amy Petros
  • Current Study: Investigate how an updated, technology-enabled classroom is experienced by undergraduate chemistry students, and how their learning is/is not affected by the space.
  • Goal: The purpose of this study is to identify the impact a CLAW 3 classroom has on student learning outcomes such as engagement in learning, attitudes towards accessibility, and content knowledge. The study also intends to identify the response of students with and without an ODA accommodation request- given a flexible classroom. Finally, the study aims to understand the role novel assignments and classroom simulations play in students’ mastery of content knowledge. This study takes place through multiple class subjects and through multiple class sections. The subjects involved for this study include students in chemistry II courses taught by Dr. Amy Petros. Investigators for this study are interested in understanding the perception of student learning in a flexible classroom. How can the investment of CLAW 3 classroom setup influence relevant student outcomes such as engagement, attitudes towards accessibility, and content knowledge. How do students with and without ODA accommodation requests respond to a more flexible classroom space? What role do novel assignments and classroom simulations play in students’ mastery of chemistry content?
  • Timeline: January 2022 - present
AI-driven online discussions
  • Faculty Fellows: Dr. Jackie DeMeritt, Dr. Rudi Thompson, Dr. Lin Lin
  • Non-UNT faculty partners: Dr. Lynn Holt (MSU), Dr. Christie Liu (JMU)
  • Current Experiment: Compare traditional online discussion activities delivered in the Canvas LMS (control group) with AI-driven online discussions using Packback (treatment group). Studies are conducted on three online courses: an undergraduate high-enrollment political science course (instructor: Dr. DeMeritt), an undergraduate high-enrollment biology course (instructor: Dr. Thompson), and a graduate instructional technology course (instructor: Dr. Lin). Partnership with non-UNT institution to replicate the research design and methods.
  • Goal: Determine whether AI led discussions effect student’s overall participation in online discussions (both quantity and quality), as well as determine if there is a correlation between AI led discussions and student performance in the course.
  • Findings: Students cite significantly more sources when posting in Packback compared to students in Canvas discussions forums. Check out the article How AI is Shaping Online Discussion Quality for more information about this project. In a second iteration, an interaction between platform and course/subject discipline was noted in impacting % of sources cited. TAs also noted the importance of giving feedback and perceptions of ambiguity in the way the AI evaluates post quality. Private coaching by educators appears to have a positive impact on grades and curiosity scores on students’ posts. Third iteration of the research (2021) looked at coaching in more detail and a journal manuscript write-up is in progress.
  • Submitted Outputs:
    • C Hudson, A Archibald, T Heap. (2020) Integrating an AI-Driven Discussion Platform: The Impact of Platform on Engagement and Quality. EDEN Conference Proceedings, 117-126. Best Research Paper finalist.
    • T Heap, C Hudson, A Archibald (2020). Investigating the Impact of an AI-driven Discussion Platform on Educator Perceptions and Feedback. EDEN Conference Proceedings, 127-136
    • Using AI to Enhance Teacher Presence in Online Discussions, submitted to TechTrends in March 2022.
  • Timeline: May 2019 – current