Exploring the effect of augmented reality on cognitive load, attitude, spatial ability, and stereochemical perception

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Augmented reality (AR) has the capacity to afford a virtual experience that obviates the reliance on using two-dimensional representations of 3D molecules for teaching stereochemistry to undergraduate students. Using a combination of quantitative instruments and qualitative surveys/interviews, this study explored the relationships between students’ attitudes, perceived cognitive load, spatial ability, and academic performance when engaging in an asynchronous online stereochemistry activity. Our activity was designed using elements of game-based learning, and integrated AR technologies. The control group was provided with a copy of our activity that used two-dimensional drawings, whereas the AR group completed an activity using the AR technologies. For this cohort of students, results indicated significant improvement in academic performance in both the control and AR groups. The introduction of AR technologies did not result in the AR group outperforming the control group. Participants from both groups displayed significant improvements in spatial ability throughout the research period. Further, a moderate correlation (rs = 0.416) between students’ spatial ability and academic performance was found. No significant intergroup differences in the perceived cognitive loads of students were observed. A significant difference was observed on one item of the Intellectual Accessibility subscale of the ASCI (V2), Complicated–Simple. We found no correlation for student attitude or cognitive load with academic performance. The findings of this study provide insights for future AR-related studies to explore the role of spatial ability, student attitude, and cognitive load in learning performance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)322-339
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Science Education and Technology
Issue number3
Early online date28 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • Augmented reality
  • Game-based learning
  • Interactive visualisation
  • Problem solving
  • Undergraduate

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