Research

The use of 3D technology in the classroom is a relatively new concept that has become more prevalent in recent years with the popularity and wide accessibility of 3D movies. Although 3D educational content has been available for at least ten years, the cost to bring 3D into the classroom has recently reduced significantly enough to make this technology feasible for the educational arena. However, fully leveraging the advantages of 3D technology requires more than simply having teachers use 3D simulations and evolving education in the United States requires more than new technology. JTM Concepts, Inc. has been creating educational content for ten years and has had the opportunity to test the technology in the classroom in partnership with the Rock Island-Milan School District (RISD) and most recently, with the Rock Island Regional Office of Education. Formal studies clearly indicate the effectiveness of 3D technology in the classroom. Designing and implementing a new approach to education, which centers on 3D technology and visualization, will improve student performance by as much as 35% with at least an equal effect with typically underrepresented students. These equal gains will close the achievement gap.


The first informal test conducted took place at Rock Island High School in May of 2003. Three biology teachers used a 3D simulation to teach the "Ear Anatomy" as well as the general concept of how sound is processed. Approximately 250 students received this lesson in 3D. No formal data was gathered but the responses from all three teachers were very positive. The first observation they made was that there were no disciplinary problems and that all students were engaged. When you combine two or three classes together, there is always some sort of disruption but during the 3D class, there were not any. In addition, all of the students passed the exam, which had never happened before.


The feedback from the initial exposure prompted a more formal test in the fall of 2003 where a biology teacher from the high school taught earth science material to sixth grade students at two different schools in the district, which will be referred to as School 1 and School 2. There was one control and one 3D class in each school. The demographics of School 1 (White=55.6%; Black = 35.3%; Hispanic - 8.4%; Asians = .5%; Native American = .2%) were representative of the overall district's demographics, while 99% of the student population of School 2 were on the free and reduced lunch program. The students were not familiar with the teacher or her teaching methods. The subject matter presented was at the 9th and 10th grade levels. The class time was one hour during which pre and post tests were provided and read to the students. The reults were astounding. The control class at School 1 showed an increase of 9.7%, while the 3D class had an increase of 34.8%. The control class at School 2 also showed an increase of 9.7% while the 3D class had an increase of 22.6%.


In 2007, an extensive, formal test was conducted in the school district where nine elementary schools participated yielding a total of 1,070 students. The students were assessed on a math simulation called "Composite Solids - Volume," which shows how to compute the volume of complex shapes.


An outside consultant from Western Illinois University conducted the assessment and calculated all of the data, providing unbiased results. The assessment given was designed for a program assessment and was intentionally not done in a specific method with control and experimental groups. The assessment was conducted this way as not to leave out any students. It was clear that all students could and should benefit from the 3D content. The same pre and post assessment was used with all students for continuity. Although instruction varied between teachers, most of the instruction of the 1,070 students was performed by the same certified teacher, creating even greater control of the assessment results. The average increase in test scores across the total test population was 32%. The data was disaggregated into five subgroups: Free/Reduced Lunch, Ethnicitiy, IEP, Gender, and Math ISAT scores. The gains are shown in the table below.


Subgroup
Average Subgroup Gains
Subgroup
Average Subgroup Gains
Free/Reduced Lunch
32%
Female
35%
Full Paid Lunch
31%
Male
29%
       
Non-White
32%
IEP Students
31%
White
32%
Non-IEP Students
32%
       
Math ISAT Below
31%
   
Math ISAT Meets
33%
   
Math ISAT Exceeds
30%
   

In summary, "The Classroom3® 3D simulations were successful in equalizing the achievement gains of all subgroups."