Richard Lamb

Associate Professor for University at Buffalo

Richard Lamb joined the Department of Learning and Instruction as an associate professor and is the program director for educational technology program. He earned his Ph.D. from George Mason University, College of Education and Human Development in science education and educational measurement. Lamb previously served as an assistant professor at Washington State University, where he taught in the elementary education program, courses on advanced quantitative methods such as multilevel modeling and structural equation modeling, and directed the Neurocognition Science Laboratory. His research interests focus on the identification and measurement of cognitive processes engaged while using technology in the learning of science and other STEM fields. The tools Lamb uses to complete his research are interdisciplinary and drawn from multiple fields to include neuropsychology, neuroscience, educational measurement, and computer science. Lamb is currently directing a new laboratory in the Graduate School of Education to examine the impact of educational technology on student learning using neuroimaging technologies.

Talk Description:

A neuroimaging study comparing pedagogical approaches in science teaching and learning using virtual reality Based Serious Educational Games.

The purpose of this study was to investigate differences in the level of hemodynamic response (used as a proxy for ‘cognitive demand’ and ‘cognitive dynamics’) as it relates to three different pedagogical approaches of teaching the processes of DNA extraction in life science. The first approach was a ‘traditional classroom’ using lecture based learning approaches. Lectures were delivered in a standard classroom with a white board in which students took notes and asked questions of the teacher. The second approach used an immersive Serious Educational Game in which students completed a virtual reality based DNA extraction protocol. The third approach was the use of a ‘hands-on’ ‘real-life’ laboratory in which the students engaged in the extraction protocol found in the Virtual Reality Based Serious Education Game. Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRs) technology was used in this study to examine hemodynamic localization and relative cognitive dynamics and demand associated with each condition. The hypothesis was that students in the Serious Educational Game group would have a greater amount of localized, yet less intensive, activation in the frontal cortical regions than students in the traditional group. The second hypothesis was that the group engaged in the virtual DNA extraction would have the same types and intensity of activation as those students engaged in the ‘real-life’ DNA extractions. In addition to examination of cognitive demand and dynamics via hemodynamic activations, learning gains were triangulated using a content based pretest and post test approach. All student participants (n=100) were tested prior to the interventions in order to determine their level of knowledge about DNA extraction. Results suggest that the group using the virtual laboratory had a significantly higher score increase on the post test compared to the traditional group and the virtual laboratory group did not statistically significantly differ from the real-life laboratory group. Analysis of fNIR data indicates that there is statistically significantly more hemodynamic response in the frontal cortex when students are playing the educational game compared to students learning through traditional lecture techniques. More importantly, measures of virtual environment hemodynamic responses did not differ from those of the ‘real-life’ laboratory in either location or intensity. These results suggest that realistic game based environments and ‘real-life’ laboratory activities activate and produce similar amounts of processing and learning.

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