Journal of Science Education and Technology

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 449–462 | Cite as

Affordances of Augmented Reality in Science Learning: Suggestions for Future Research

  • Kun-Hung Cheng
  • Chin-Chung Tsai


Augmented reality (AR) is currently considered as having potential for pedagogical applications. However, in science education, research regarding AR-aided learning is in its infancy. To understand how AR could help science learning, this review paper firstly has identified two major approaches of utilizing AR technology in science education, which are named as image-based AR and location-based AR. These approaches may result in different affordances for science learning. It is then found that students’ spatial ability, practical skills, and conceptual understanding are often afforded by image-based AR and location-based AR usually supports inquiry-based scientific activities. After examining what has been done in science learning with AR supports, several suggestions for future research are proposed. For example, more research is required to explore learning experience (e.g., motivation or cognitive load) and learner characteristics (e.g., spatial ability or perceived presence) involved in AR. Mixed methods of investigating learning process (e.g., a content analysis and a sequential analysis) and in-depth examination of user experience beyond usability (e.g., affective variables of esthetic pleasure or emotional fulfillment) should be considered. Combining image-based and location-based AR technology may bring new possibility for supporting science learning. Theories including mental models, spatial cognition, situated cognition, and social constructivist learning are suggested for the profitable uses of future AR research in science education.


Augmented reality Science education Spatial ability Practical skills Conceptual understanding Inquiry-based learning 



Funding of this research work is supported by the National Science Council, Taiwan, under grant numbers NSC 98-2511-S-011-005-MY3 and 99-2511-S-011-005-MY3.


  1. Ajanki A, Billinghurst M, Gamper H, Järvenpää T, Kandemir M, Kaski S et al (2011) An augmented reality interface to contextual information. Virtual Real 15(2–3):161–173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Andújar JM, Mejias A, Marquez MA (2011) Augmented reality for the improvement of remote laboratories: an augmented remote laboratory. IEEE Trans Educ 54(3):492–500CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Azuma R (1997) A survey of augmented reality. Presence Teleoper Virtual Environ 6:355–385Google Scholar
  4. Bajura M, Fuchs H, Ohbuchi R (1992). Merging virtual objects with the real world: Seeing ultrasound imagery within the patient. Commun ACM 36(7):52–62. In: Proceedings of SIGGRAPH ‘92, ACM Press, New York, pp 203–210Google Scholar
  5. Broll W, Lindt I, Herbst I, Ohlenburg J, Braun AK, Wetzel R (2008) Toward next-gen mobile AR games. IEEE Comput Graph Appl 28(4):40–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brown JS, Collins A, Duguid P (1989) Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Edu Res 18(1):32–41Google Scholar
  7. Caudell TP, Mizell DW (1992) Augmented reality: an application of heads-up display technology to manual manufacturing processes. In: Proceedings of Hawaii international conference on system sciences, pp 659–669Google Scholar
  8. Dunleavy M, Dede C, Mitchell R (2009) Affordances and limitations of immersive participatory augmented reality simulations for teaching and learning. J Sci Educ Technol 18(1):7–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Eursch A (2007) Increased safety for manual tasks in the field of nuclear science using the technology of augmented reality. IEEE Nuclear Science Symposium Conference Record 3:2053–2059Google Scholar
  10. Feiner S, MacIntyre B, Seligmann D (1993) Knowledge-based augmented reality. Commun ACM 36(7):52–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ha T, Lee Y, Woo W (2011) Digilog book for temple bell tolling experience based on interactive augmented reality. Virtual Real 15(4):295–309CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hou HT (2010) Exploring the behavioural patterns in project-based learning with online discussion: quantitative content analysis and progressive sequential analysis. Turk Online J Edu Technol 9(3):52–60Google Scholar
  13. Johnson L, Smith R, Willis H, Levine A, Haywood K (2011) The 2011 horizon report. The New Media Consortium, AustinGoogle Scholar
  14. Johnson-Laird PN (1980) Mental models in cognitive science. Cogn Sci 4:71–115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kerawalla L, Luckin R, Seljeflot S, Woolard A (2006) “Making it real”: exploring the potential of augmented reality for teaching primary school science. Virtual Real 10(3–4):136–174Google Scholar
  16. Klopfer E (2008) Augmented learning: research and design of mobile educational games. MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  17. Koong Lin HC, Hsieh MC, Wang CH, Sie ZY, Chang SH (2011) Establishment and usability evaluation of an interactive AR learning system on conservation of fish. Turk Online J Edu Technol 10(4):181–187Google Scholar
  18. Linn MC (2003) Technology and science education: starting points, research programs, and trends. Int J Sci Educ 25(6):727–758CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Martin S, Diaz G, Sancristobal E, Gil R, Castro M, Peire J (2011) New technology trends in education: seven years of forecasts and convergence. Comput Educ 57(3):1893–1906CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Martín-Gutiérrez J, Luís Saorín J, Contero M, Alcañiz M, Pérez-López DC, Ortega M (2010) Design and validation of an augmented book for spatial abilities development in engineering students. Comput Graph 34(1):77–91CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. McCall R, Wetzel R, Löschner J, Braun A-K (2011) Using presence to evaluate an augmented reality location aware game. Pers Ubiquit Comput 15(1):25–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Milgram P, Kishino F (1994) A taxonomy of mixed reality visual displays. IEICE Trans Inf Syst E77(12):1321–1329Google Scholar
  23. Montello DR (2001) Spatial cognition. In: Smelser NJ, Baltes PB (eds) International encyclopedia of the social and behavioral sciences. Pergamon Press, Oxford, pp 14771–14775CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Murray CD, Fox J, Pettifer S (2007) Absorption, dissociation, locus of control and presence in virtual reality. Comput Hum Behav 23(3):1347–1354CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Norman DA (2004) Emotional design: Why we love (or hate) everyday things. Basic Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  26. Núñez M, Quiros R, Núñez I, Carda JB, Camahort E (2008) Collaborative augmented reality for inorganic chemistry education. In: Proceedings of the 5th WSEAS/IASME international conference on engineering education, July 22–24, 2008. Heraklion, pp 271–277Google Scholar
  27. O’Shea P, Mitchell R, Johnston C, Dede C (2009) Lessons learned about designing augmented realities. Int J Gaming Comput Mediat Simul 1(1):1–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. O’Shea P, Dede C, Cherian M (2011) The results of formatively evaluating an augmented reality curriculum based on modified design principles. Int J Gaming Comput Mediat Simul 3(2):57–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Papagiannakis G, Singh G, Magnenat-Thalmann N (2008) A survey of mobile and wireless technologies for augmented reality systems. Comput Animat Virtual Worlds 19(1):3–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Pence HE (2011) Smartphones, smart objects, and augmented reality. Ref Libr 52(1):136–145Google Scholar
  31. Pintrich PR, Marx RW, Boyle RA (1993) Beyond cold conceptual change: the role of motivational beliefs and classroom contextual factors in the process of conceptual change. Rev Educ Res 63(2):167–199CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Preece J, Rogers Y, Sharp H (2002) Interaction design: Beyond human-computer interaction. Wiley, NYGoogle Scholar
  33. Rosenbaum E, Klopfer E, Perry J (2007) On location learning: authentic applied science with networked augmented realities. J Sci Educ Technol 16(1):31–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Rutten N, van Joolingen WR, van der Veen JT (2011) The learning effects of computer simulations in science education. Comput Educ 58(1):136–153CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Salzman MC, Dede C, Bowen Loftin R, Chen J (1995) The design and evaluation of virtual reality-based learning environments. Presence Teleoper Virtual Environ (special issue on education)Google Scholar
  36. Schuemie MJ, van der Straaten P, Krijn M, van der Mast CAPG (2001) Research on presence in virtual reality: a survey. CyberPsychol Behav 4(2):183–201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Shelton B, Stevens R (2004) Using coordination classes to interpret conceptual change in astronomical thinking. In: Kafai Y, Sandoval W, Enyedy N, Nixon A, Herrera F (eds) Proceedings of the 6th international conference for the learning sciences. Lawrence Erlbaum & Associates, Mahweh, NJGoogle Scholar
  38. Squire KD, Jan M (2007) Mad city mystery: developing scientific argumentation skills with a place-based augmented reality game on handheld computers. J Sci Educ Technol 16(1):5–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Squire K, Klopfer E (2007) Augmented reality simulations on handheld computers. J Learn Sci 16(3):371–413CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Sutherland IE (1968) A head-mounted three dimensional display. Proc AFIPS Conf 33:756–764Google Scholar
  41. Sylaiou S, Mania K, Karoulis A, White M (2010) Exploring the relationship between presence and enjoyment in a virtual museum. Int J Hum Comput Stud 68(5):243–253CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Tsai MJ, Hou HT, Lai ML, Liu WY, Yang FY (2012) Visual attention for solving multiple-choice science problem: an eye-tracking analysis. Comput Educ 58(1):375–385CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Vygotsky LS (1978) Chapter 6: Interaction between learning and development. In: Cole M (ed) Mind in society: the development of higher psychological processes. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Digital Content Production CenterNational Chiao Tung UniversityHsinchuTaiwan
  2. 2.Graduate Institute of Applied Science and TechnologyNational Taiwan University of Science and TechnologyTaipeiTaiwan
  3. 3.Graduate Institute of Digital Learning and EducationNational Taiwan University of Science and TechnologyTaipeiTaiwan

Personalised recommendations