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The Effect of Multimodal Virtual Chemistry Laboratory on Students' Learning Improvement

Abstract. This paper presents a novel Multimodal Virtual laboratory (MMVL) for the learning of chemistry experiments. MMVL is a Virtual Reality environment where the user can perform chemistry experiments like a real world chemistry lab. The user can easily interact with MMVL through 3D interaction interface. The audio and visual information about each chemical objects are provided to its users. The system improves the learning capabilities of students in chemistry education. The analysis shows that the average learning of untrained student is 32.7% while that of trained students increased to 83.5%. Experiments reveal that confidence level in practical field of students who got training in MMVL is much better than those who did not use it.

Keywords: Virtual reality environment 3D virtual chemistry laboratory Multimodal

1 Introduction

Guided methods of learning process have given little opportunities for students to motivate them. The intelligence, individual abilities and innovative thinking of the students can be obtained by doing something practical by them. In this framework laboratory applications perform an important role for students motivation. In the field of science education (chemistry, physics, biology and engineering) a lot of researchers admitted that laboratory activities increase the students capabilities and interest [1, 2]. Especially in chemistry education, the role of laboratory is clearly understandable [3]. Students take more interest in learning by performing and observing the experiments in the chemistry laboratory [4]. Laboratory activities enhance and stabilize students learning capabilities [7]. However due to financial problems and other several hurdle most of the institutions cannot establish and utilize chemistry laboratories, particularly in developing countries. These include the followings

D To arrange all equipments and chemicals for experiments in the laboratory are more costly for institutions.

D For a student it is difficult to perform the experiments individually.

D It is also difficult for teacher to check the performance and learning process of every student if the number of students is high in a class.

D Repetition of an experiment will require more time and resources.

D Consumption of chemicals and breaking of glass ware is also an issue.

D A little mistake in real laboratory environment may hurt the student or may cause damage to the laboratory.

The solution of these challenges is the use of Virtual Reality (VR) technologies in education and laboratory activities [5]. Virtual environments allow users to have real time interactions with computer generated objects and perform the desired task while getting the illusion of reality. It fulfills the deficiency of chemical items and other equipment which appear in the real chemistry laboratories. There are many benefits of virtual laboratories especially in distance learning education, because it can be accessed anywhere and anytime for experiments without any cost [6]. Virtual laboratories provide safe environment for students to simulate their experiments [9]. There is a need to design fully equipped virtual chemistry laboratory for students to easily simulate their chemistry experiments virtually. This paper examines the development of MMVL where the students can simulate their chemistry experiments like they perform a real world chemistry experiment. The paper is organized as follows: Next section will present previous studies. Section 3 presents the development of MMVL. Section 4 is about the experiment and evaluation of the MMVL. Section 5 presents the whole work. Final section 6 presents the conclusion.

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