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Blending virtual reality with traditional approaches to encourage engagement with core chemistry concepts relevant to an undergraduate pharmacy curriculum

Hall, J. P. ORCID: and Allman, S. A. (2020) Blending virtual reality with traditional approaches to encourage engagement with core chemistry concepts relevant to an undergraduate pharmacy curriculum. Pharmacy Education, 20 (1). pp. 365-374. ISSN 1477-2701

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To link to this item DOI: 10.46542/pe.2020.201.365374


Students studying Pharmacy often lack motivation to engage with chemical principles. In particular, they often find fundamental chemical concepts such as the visualization of three-dimensional structures challenging. This programme description reports the design and implementation of a teaching session where stand-alone virtual reality (VR) technology was offered alongside traditional methods of instruction in an attempt to encourage students to engage with fundamental chemistry concepts relating to the three-dimensional structures of drug molecules. By using VR technology in combination with paper-based in-class exercises and supporting material delivered via a virtual learning environment, we demonstrate that virtual reality could be used to both reinforce learning and enhance engagement with a topic which students often find challenging. A blended approach employing different methods of delivery presents the advantage that it allows the user control over the level of interaction with each individual element. As such, virtual reality becomes a valuable instructional tool rather the focus of the session or a distraction. To evaluate the sessions, we collected student feedback using a “ballot-box” system where students could provide anonymous free response comments. Feedback from the session was overwhelmingly positive and it was noted that the optional use of VR technology kept students engaged in tackling paper-based exercises in an area of curriculum which learners often find difficult. It is noted that a blended approach can help to overcome several of the barriers to the use of virtual reality in a classroom setting. In addition, it highlights that effective deployment of such technology is both viable and beneficial on a classroom scale. In the future, we hope to apply these methods to other parts of the curriculum where students would benefit from being able to visualize three-dimensional structures.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy > School of Pharmacy > Medicinal Chemistry Research Group
ID Code:93717

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