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Holly McVay

November 10, 2009


Dr. and Dr. Ausburn

Top Virtual Environments

Implications of Desk
Top Virtual Reality Environment Instruction in Assisting On
Training for Persons with Disabilities


As technology develops, methods of training individuals with disabilities are evolving.

Research on technology with regard to job placement training among individuals with

has been minimal at

best. New interactive technologies such as desk
top virtual reality can

enhance the job placement success rate. Therefore

educational technologies must be evaluated

to determine alternate means of preparing individuals with disabilities to accomplish specific job


Purpose of the Research

The purpose of our study is to investigate how desk
top virtual reality environments assist

high school students with disabilities in learning to complete a job task successfully.


presentation will be a paper session describing our proposed rese
arch on this topic, specifically

in a healthcare setting. We hope to show, through our research, the assistance of the virtual

environments used during training enables persons with disabilities to transition smoother and

more quickly to full independence in the workplace. Through the data collected, we

anticipate to confirm that quality job training through the use of desk
top virtual reality

environments improves the job performance of individuals with disabilitie

Problem Statement

New interactive technologies

such as desk
top virtual reality

can enhance the job placement

success rate

for individuals with disabilities
. Therefore

such technologies must be evaluated to

determine alternate means of preparing individuals with disabilities to accomplish specific job


Conceptual Framework and Research Questions

The theoretical anchor for this study are found in Dales’s Cone of Experience and the

conceptual f
rame is found in the Theory of Work Adjustment. Dale’s cone of experience is a

model that incorporates several theories related to instructional design and learning processes.

Edgar Dale theorized that learners retain more information by what they “do”
as opposed to what

is “heard”, “read”, or “observed”. Recent advancements in desk
top virtual reality technology

will allow individuals with disabilities to experience learning a job task by “doing”, r
epeatedly if

necessary, in a saf
e and controlled ma
nner. Dale’s Cone proposed that (a) various types of

learning experience and media representations vary in their concreteness, (b) more concrete

forms of experience and media are truer and more complete representations of reality, and (c)

more concrete media representations can facilitate learning, particularly when reality is complex

and unfamiliar to learner (Dale, 1954).

One of the primary characteristics of virtual reality is the “trueness” of its presentation of the

realty of
a 3D environment and the spatial relationship of items within it. The more accurate and

realistic experience of a complex visual scene through virtual reality than would be possible with

still imagery.

The conceptual frame in The Theory of Work A
djustment (TWA), describes the relationship

of the individual t
o his or her environment. With
in the TWA conceptual model work is

conceptualized as an, (a) interaction between an individual and a work environment, (b) the work

environment requires that
certain tasks be performed, and the individual brings skills to perform

the task, and (c) in exchange, the individual requires compensation of work performance and

certain preferred conditions, such as a safe and comfort
able place to work

(Dawis, 1994).


both Dale’s Cone of experience theory and the Theory of Work adjustment the researchers attend

to virtually combine job task operations and job environment with an

element of authenticity

which allows individuals with disabilities enhanced job re
adiness and vocational skills.

Two other theories that will also impact the research of this study are Transfer of Learning
eory and Supplantation Theory. Transfer of Learning Theory is important because transfer
leads to performance change


hopefully reflect

the desired training outcomes

Hutchins and Burke
, 2007)
Lim and Morris (2007) state,

From a comprehensive review of literature, Baldwin and Ford developed a training
transfer construct composed of trainees’ characteristics (a
bility and aptitudes, personality,
and motivation) and work environment variables (supportive organizational climate,
discussion with supervisor, opportunity to use knowledge and skills, and post
goal setting and feedback) that may support transfe
r of training. This model explains the
transfer process in three phases: (1) training input factors, (2) training outcomes, and (3)
conditions of transfer. Training input factors include training design, trainee
characteristics, and work environment charac
teristics. Training outcomes refer to the
amount of original learning that occurs during a training program and the retention of the
learning after the training program is completed. In conditions of transfer, both the
generalization of learning to the job

context and maintenance of the learned material over
a period of time on the job influence the transfer process.

By incorporating Salomon’s Supplantation Theory, this theory should support our
research data. By using effective media and visual
effects in the job training process, this will
support and enhance the overall learning, training and

in the end, increase

job performance.

Research Question #1

When using
top virtual reality

environments for training
purposes, does it replace t
hat of a live person

trainer, teacher, job coach etc.?

Research Question #2

When using
top virtual reality

environments in various job
settings, is there an overall improvement in job performance?

Increased Job
with use of
Virtual Reality
Dale’s Cones

Learn best by
“doing” in the most
realistic setting
Theory of Work

The relationship
between and
individual and their
work environment
Transfer of

How well the VR
training will
transfer onto the

Use of multi
media/visual effects
will enhance
training and overall
job performance
Students with Disabilities Immersed in an On
Job Training
Desk Top Virtual Reality at a Health Care Facility
0% No VR
100% Blended
50% with VR

Conceptual Framework

Literature Review

The proposed study will evaluate the effectiveness of using v
irtual reality to train workers
who are physically, mentally, or learning disabled to work in a hospital setting as support staff
performing t
asks such as the stocking of medical supplies, food service, and gift shop operations.
Virtual reality has been widely used within health care in the education and training tool for
medical professionals such as doctors and nurses, as well as in patient di
agnostics and therapy
(Satava & Jones, 2002)
. Other applications of virtual reality in health care include
neuropsychological assessments, stroke rehabilitation, pain management, and the t
reatment of
speech and communications disorders, anxiety disorders, and a variety of phobias
(Lányi, 2006)

Even though virtual reality is well known in health care as a tool for professional
education and practice, there is a little literature directly releva
nt to the proposed research. This
lack of literature reflects the view that although virtual reality is recognized as an effective
vocational training tool, much research still needs to be performed to develop an explanatory
theory base that is applicable
in a wide variety of environments
(Ausburn & Ausburn, 2008)
Perhaps most relevant to the proposed study is the literature concerning the use of virtual reality
to assist the intellectua
lly disabled in learning life skills that can increase their independence and
greater social access
(Standen & Brown, 2006)
. The intellectually disabled have us
ed virtual
reality for training in such areas as such as street crossing and vehicle operation; motorized
wheel chair operation
(Wilson, Foreman, & Stanton, 1997)
; using public transportation and other
modes of travel
(Lányi, 2006; Standen & Brown, 2006; Wilson, et al., 1997)
, an
d shopping and
food preparation
(Standen & Brown, 2005)
. Spatially oriented tasks, such as familiarization to
fire exits in schools and other buildings, object search and recall, and mental rotation of
environmental features have also been successfully performed in virtual environme
nts by
intellectually disabled users
(Standen & Brown, 2006; Wilson, et al., 1997)
. As a group, the
intellectually disabled have particular difficulty with learning transfer
(Standen & Brown, 2005)
but several studies have shown that the disabled population can successfully transfer learning
from th
e virtual environment to corresponding real environment in a variety of situations
(Standen & Brown, 2005,

2006; Wilson, et al., 1997)

Several attributes of virtual reality make it particularly suitable for training the
intellectually disabled.

Intellectually disabled learners tend to be passive in nature, but the active
involvement of the learner demanded by virtual reality can counter that tendency and encourage
more self
direction in learning
(Wilson, et al., 1997)
. In comparison to real environments, the
virtual environment provides opportunities where learning can oc
cur from mistakes without
adverse effects on pride or safety
(Standen & Brown, 2005, 2006; Wilson, et al.,

. A virtual
environment provides educators with the ability to manipulate the environment in order to
control its complexity to match

the skill level of the learner, both initially and as training
proceeds and assistive scaffolding can be added or delete from the environment as required
(Standen & Brown, 2005, 2006)
. The ability of the virtual environment

to convey concepts
without the direct use of language and symbols is an attribute that is especially relevant to the
intellectually disabled population
(Standen & Brown, 2005, 2006; Wilson, et al., 1997)
. Care
must be taken with the des
ign of the virtual environments;

however, to ensure that ease of use is
appropriate for the disabled user, in
order to avoid loss of interest and motivation
(Lányi, 2006)


The potential of virtual reality technology to cost
effectively deliver self
paced job skills
training to disable

populations was noted more than a decade ago
(Chestnut & Crumpton,

Despite the success of using virtual reality to train life skills, there has been little
published research on the use of virtual reality to teach vocational skills to the disabled. Several
es have examined the use of virtual workshops to train intellectually disabled workers in
component assembly tasks and they have shown promising results, but the research designs for
the studies, such as the lack of control groups, limit the general applic
ability of their findings
nden & Brown, 2005)
. The advantages and experiences of using virtual reality to train
disabled populations in life skills, however, appear to be applicable to co
rresponding vocational
and can serve as a guide in the proposed research.


Ausburn, L. J., & Ausburn, F. B. (2008). Effects of desktop virtual reality on learner
performance and confidence in environment mastery: Opening a line of inquiry.
of Industrial Teacher Education, 45

Chestnut, J. A., & Crumpton, L. L. (1997). Virtual reality: a training tool in the 21st century for
disabled persons and medical students. In J. D. Baumgardner & A. D. Puckett (Eds.),

Proceedings of the 1997 Sixteenth Southern Biomedical Engineering


421). Piscataway, NJ: IEEE.

Dale, E. (1954). Audio
visual methods in teaching (Rev.ed.) New York: The Dryden

Book, Henry Holt and Company.

Dawis, R. V. (1994). The theory of work adjustment as convergent theory. In M. L.

Savickas & R
. W. Lent (Eds.), Convergence in career development theories

(pp. 33
43). Palo Alto, CA: CCP Books

Hutchins, H. and Burke, L. (2008).

SHRM Society for human resource management. Retrieved
November 11



Lányi, C. (2006). Virtual reality in healthcare.
Studies in
Computational Intelligence, 19
, 87

Lim, Doo H. & Morris, Michael, L (2006). Influence of trainee characteristics, instructional
satisfaction, and organizational climate on perceived learning and training transfer.
Human Resource Development Quarterly.


Satava, R. M., & Jones, S. B. (2002). Medical applications of virtual environments. In K. M.
Stanney (Ed.),
Handbook of virtual environments: Design, implementation and

(pp. 937
957). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Standen, P. J.,
& Brown, D. J. (2005). Virtual reality in the rehabilitation of people with
intellectual disabilities: Review.
Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 8
(3), 272

Standen, P. J., & Brown, D. J. (2006). Virtual reality and its role in removing the barriers that

cognitive impairments into intellectual disability.
Virtual Reality, 10
(3), 241

Wilson, P. N., Foreman, N., & Stanton, D. (1997). Virtual reality, disability and rehabilitation.
Disability and Rehabilitation, 19
(6), 213