So recently, I published a blog post about the thought of using virtual reality to help close the achievement gap. Part of that belief was the idea that the achievement gap is created in part by a lack of experiences. So can VR give students those experiences virtually to help close that portion of the achievement gap.
I was honored in writing an article with ISTE about our use of our virtual reality kits in our elementary classrooms and even presented a poster session about this idea at the ISTE 2017 Conference. So we now have some basic results that I would like to share.
So I first of all have to say that this was not a perfect study and that numerous things might have impacted the results. Unfortunately for the study’s sake, we do not have the time to be able to control only the one variable as these students need all of the effective changes to happen now. So I am throwing out there that this was not (and is not designed) to be a controlled study.
We purchased a classroom kit (28) of virtual reality goggles (Viewmaster) and 28 iPod Touches. The kit was then left in PLSD’s low socioeconomic building. The instructional coach was properly trained in how to use the VR kit and support was given when needed. The VR kit was available for the last 6 months of the 2016-17 school year. The VR kit was heavily used in this school.
The goal was to use the VR kit to give student immersive experiences that related to content/standards in the ELA classrooms. The study focused on 3rd and 4th grade students. The metric evaluated was to determine if VR can help to raise achievement (proficiency levels) scores.
Looking at ELA Ohio Computer Based Assessment Results (AIR test administered in the Spring 2017), Tussing Elementary saw increased scores in both 3rd and 4th grade ELA and a reduction in the number of students in the lowest category (Limited).
In 3rd grade, the 2016 proficiency was 62% and in 2017 the proficiency was 64%. In 2016 there were 25% of the students in the limited category with only 12% being in the limited category in 2017.
In 4th grade, the 2016 proficiency was 54% and in 2017 the proficiency raised to an amazing 71%! In 2016 there were 27% of the students in the limited category with only 20% being in the limited category in 2017.
So in closing, we did see a marked improvement in the percentage of students proficient or above. But again, the study was not truly controlled and we cannot claim that all of these results were due to the use of VR. But we can say that students are more engaged, more thoughtful about their work, had better discussions and writing samples with the use of VR.
We plan on continuing this project and study with more VR classroom kits in more buildings and grades as we start the 2017-18 school year.