Understanding the implications of augmented reality out of context in engineering education Ayer, Steven K.; Messner, John I.; Anumba, Chimay J.
Educating building design and construction students about sustainability is critical to the development of a future workforce that is capable of making a positive impact on future sustainable buildings. Prior research has leveraged emerging computing technologies to remove some of the educational hurdles that are common among new engineering students, related to visualization and design assessment. In this prior work, an augmented reality (AR) based simulation game, called ecoCampus, was developed to allow students to design an exterior wall for an existing building on their campus to improve sustainable performance. After users created designs in ecoCampus, they were able to view a virtual mock-up of their design at full-scale with AR and then assess the performance of that concept using the basic simulation game interface. Using this technological approach to design, students were able to resist the tendency toward design fixation as compared to students who were not provided with the computerized ecoCampus interface. This paper further explores the AR component of ecoCampus to understand how students’ learning is affected when the design activity is completed out of the context of the physical building. In this work, students who used ecoCampus to design a new exterior wall concept for an existing building did so in a lab space where they were not able to physically explore the existing building for which they were designing the concept. Instead, they could only view the existing building through a single photograph that was projected on a screen. Students completed the same assessments as prior student cohorts and were allotted the same amount of time. After analyzing the collected data it was observed that, while students still employed beneficial design behaviours as compared to prior cohorts using paper-based design strategies, the process that they employed to arrive at their final design concept included fewer considerations of different design alternatives than students who used ecoCampus in the existing building. This suggests that there may be additional value in using AR in the physical context of a space for building design and assessment learning tasks, especially when design creativity is advantageous.
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