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Assessment of STEM e-Learning in an Immersive Virtual Reality (VR) Environment

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Online, Hybrid, and other Virtual Learning Environments

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

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Paper Authors


Hazim A El-Mounayri Indiana University Purdue University, Indianapolis

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Dr. El-Mounayri received his PhD in 1997 from McMaster University (in Canada) in Mechanical Engineering, He is currently an associate professor of Mechanical Engineering, the co-director of the Advanced Engineering and Manufacturing Laboratory (AEML) at IUPUI, and a senior scientist for manufacturing applications at Advanced Science and Automation Corp. Also, he is a leading member of INDI (Integrated Nanosystems Development Institute). He co-developed the Advanced Virtual Manufacturing Laboratory for Training, Education and Research (AVML), an innovative e-learning tool for educating students and training the next generation workforce in sophisticated technology and its underlying theory. Dr. El-Mounayri teaches courses in Design, CAD/CAM, and Nanotechnology. His research focus is in advanced manufacturing, including nano- machining. Dr. El-Mounayri has worked as consultant for and conducted R&D for a number of local companies in the areas of CAD/CAM, CNC machining, and process development/improvement. Dr. El-Mounayri is a member of ASME, ASEE, and SME. He has published over 75 technical papers in renowned peer-reviewed journals and technical conferences in his field and gave presentations at various national and international conferences.

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Christian Rogers Indiana University Purdue University, Indianapolis

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Christian Rogers, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in Computer Graphics Technology at Indiana University- Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) and a former Lecturer in Visual Communication Technology at Bowling Green State University. His research interests focus on experiential learning and pervasive technology to educate in the STEM fields and media theory.

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Eugenia Fernandez Indiana University Purdue University, Indianapolis

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Eugenia Fernandez is an Associate Professor of Computer and Information Technology and Chair of the Department of Computer Information and Graphics Technology in the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis. She is a Fellow of the Mack Center at Indiana University for Inquiry on Teaching and Learning and an Editor of the Journal of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Her research focuses on the scholarship of teaching and learning related to learning with technology.

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Jesse Connor Satterwhite Indiana University Purdue University, Indianapolis

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This paper shows the early research findings of utilizing a virtual reality environment as an educational tool for the operation of a computerized numerical control (CNC) milling machine. Based off of a previous work, the Advanced Virtual Machining Lab (AVML), this project features a virtual environment in which a virtual CNC machine is fully operable, designed to allow STEM students and training professionals to learn the use of the CNC machine without the need to be in a physical lab. Users operate in the virtual environment using an immersive virtual reality headset (i.e. Oculus Rift) and standard input devices (i.e. mouse and keyboard), both of which combined make for easy movement and realistic visuals. On-screen tutorials allow users to learn about what they need to do to operate the machine without the need for outside instruction. While designing and perfecting this environment has been the primary focus of this project thus far, the research goal is to test the ease of use and the pedagogical effectiveness of the immersive technology as it relates to education in STEM fields.

Initial usability studies for this environment featured students from the graduate level CAD/CAM-Theory and Advanced Applications (ME 54600) course at IUPUI. Results from the study were tabulated with a survey using a four-point Likert scale and several open-ended questions. Findings from the survey indicate that the majority of users found the environment realistic and easy to navigate, in addition to finding the immersive technology to be beneficial. Many also indicated that they felt comfortable navigating the environment without the need for additional assistance from the survey proctors. Full details on the first usability study, including data and discussion, can be found in this paper. The general consensus from the study was that, while some features needed refinement, the immersive environment helped them learn about the operation of a CNC machine. Additional usability studies will need to be undergone to refine said features before beginning the final study, in which students learning from the immersive virtual environment will be tested against students learning from traditional methods. Details on this last study will be discussed in the final paper, which will also discuss the methods used for preparing the environment, full results and detailed discussion on each of the usability studies, and conclusions on the usability and educational effectiveness of the immersive virtual reality technology in STEM education.

El-Mounayri, H. A., & Rogers, C., & Fernandez, E., & Satterwhite, J. C. (2016, June), Assessment of STEM e-Learning in an Immersive Virtual Reality (VR) Environment Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26336

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