Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

An Augmented Reality-Based Mobile Learning System to Improve Students' Learning Achievements and Motivations in Natural Science Inquiry Activities

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

An Augmented Reality-Based Mobile Learning System to Improve Students' Learning Achievements and Motivations in Natural Science Inquiry Activities

Article excerpt

Introduction

Recently, the advancement and popularity of handheld devices and sensing technologies has enabled researchers to implement more effective learning methods (Ogata, Li, Hou, Uosaki, El-Bishouty, & Yano, 2011). Several studies have reported the importance of conducting contextual learning and experiential learning in real-world environments, encouraging the use of mobile and sensing technologies in outdoor learning activities (Chu, Hwang, Tsai, & Tseng, 2010; Hung, Hwang, Lin, Wu, & Su, 2013; Yang, 2006). For example, Chu, Hwang, Huang, and Wu (2008) developed a learning system that guided students to learn about the characteristics and life cycle of plants on a school campus using mobile communication and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification).

Most of mobile learning studies emphasize the adoption of digital learning aids in real-life scenarios (Sharples, Milrad, Arnedillo-Sanchez, & Vavoula, 2009; Ogata & Yano, 2004; Wong & Looi, 2011). However, regarding supplementary mobile learning aids, the interaction between digital learning aids and the actual environment needs to be emphasized to enable students to effectively manage and incorporate personal knowledge (Wu, Lee, Chang, & Liang, 2013). For example, it is expiated that students can select a virtual learning object from the actual environment using a mobile learning aid, which allows them to obtain a first-hand understanding of the learning environment and, subsequently, increases their learning motivations and experiences. Such a learning support technology is achievable through the use of Augmented Reality (AR), which combines human senses (e.g., sight, sound, and touch) with virtual objects to facilitate real-world environment interactions for users to achieve an authentic perception of the environment (Azuma, 1997). For example, users who employ mobile devices with AR facilities to seek a target building on a street are able to see additional information surrounding individual buildings when they browse the buildings via the camera of their mobile device. Researchers have documented the potential of employing such facilities to assist students in learning in real-world environments in comparisons with traditional instructions (Andujar, Mejias, & Marquez, 2011; Chen, Chi, Hung, & Kang, 2011; Kamarainen, Metcalf, Grotzer, Browne, Mazzuca, Tutwiler, & Dede, 2013; Platonov, Heibel, Meier, & Grollmann, 2006), which showed that AR technology contributed to improve academic achievement compared to traditional teaching methods.

On the other hand, numerous educators have contended that computer technology cannot support the learning process entirely; instead, the primary function of computer technology involves a knowledge building tool for students (Jonassen, Carr, & Yueh, 1998). Effective learning strategies remain the most crucial factor for increasing learning motivation. Therefore, effective learning strategies supplemented with appropriate computer technology can greatly enhance learning motivation (Chu, Hwang, & Tsai, 2010; Jonassen, 1999; Hwang, Tsai, Chu, Kinshuk, & Chen, 2012; Jonassen et al., 1998). Previous studies have highlighted that inquiry-based learning strategies supplemented by computer technology in a scenario-based learning environment can effectively increase learning motivation (Shih, Chuang, & Hwang, 2010; Soloway & Wallace, 1997). Inquiry-based learning strategies are student-centric knowledge exploration activities; the teacher serves as a guide, employing structured methods that train and encourage students to learn proactively (Hwang, Wu, Zhuang, & Huang, 2013; Soloway & Wallace, 1997). When students acquire the methods for problem-solving, they use the obtained information to establish a hypothesis or to plan solutions to the problem (Looi, 1998).

Consequently, in this study, an innovative learning approach is proposed to support inquiry-based learning activities with mobile AR. …

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