By adding new levels of experience, mobile Augmented Reality (mAR) can significantly increase the attractiveness of mobile learning applications in medical education.
To compare the impact of the heightened realism of a self-developed mAR blended learning environment (mARble) on learners to textbook material, especially for ethically sensitive subjects such as forensic medicine, while taking into account basic psychological aspects (usability and higher level of emotional involvement) as well as learning outcomes (increased learning efficiency).
A prestudy was conducted based on a convenience sample of 10 third-year medical students. The initial emotional status was captured using the “Profile of Mood States” questionnaire (POMS, German variation); previous knowledge about forensic medicine was determined using a 10-item single-choice (SC) test. During the 30-minute learning period, the students were randomized into two groups: the first group consisted of pairs of students, each equipped with one iPhone with a preinstalled copy of mARble, while the second group was provided with textbook material. Subsequently, both groups were asked to once again complete the POMS questionnaire and SC test to measure changes in emotional state and knowledge gain. Usability as well as pragmatic and hedonic qualities of the learning material was captured using AttrakDiff2 questionnaires. Data evaluation was conducted anonymously. Descriptive statistics for the score in total and the subgroups were calculated before and after the intervention. The scores of both groups were tested against each other using paired and unpaired signed-rank tests. An item analysis was performed for the SC test to objectify difficulty and selectivity.
Statistically significant, the mARble group (6/10) showed greater knowledge gain than the control group (4/10) (Wilcoxon z=2.232, P=.03). The item analysis of the SC test showed a difficulty of P=0.768 (s=0.09) and a selectivity of RPB=0.2. For mARble, fatigue (z=2.214, P=.03) and numbness (z=2.07, P=.04) decreased with statistical significance when comparing pre- and post-tests. Vigor rose slightly, while irritability did not increase significantly. Changes in the control group were insignificant. Regarding hedonic quality (identification, stimulation, attractiveness), there were significant differences between mARble (mean 1.179, CI −0.440 to 0.440) and the book chapter (mean −0.982, CI −0.959 to 0.959); the pragmatic quality mean only differed slightly.
The mARble group performed considerably better regarding learning efficiency; there are hints for activating components of the mAR concept that may serve to fascinate the participants and possibly boost interest in the topic for the remainder of the class. While the small sample size reduces our study’s conclusiveness, its design seems appropriate for determining the effects of interactive eLearning material with respect to emotions, learning efficiency, and hedonic and pragmatic qualities using a larger group.
German Clinical Trial Register (DRKS), DRKS-ID: DRKS00004685; https://drks-neu.uniklinik-freiburg.de/drks_web/navigate.do?navigationId=trial.HTML&TRIAL_ID=DRKS00004685.