Carter, P J, Birak, K S, Magias, D, Hulse, M A and Willis, S J (2013) The effectiveness of the Virtual Environment Radiotherapy Training (VERT) system as a teaching tool for anatomy. In: The First Annual Cyberpsychology Conference (ACPC) 2013, 19/09/13, De Montfort University, Leicester. (Unpublished)

The VERT system is an interactive 3D learning technology. It can simulate complex radiotherapy equipment, treatment plans and 3D anatomy. This 3D anatomy, in which the students can see various structures and their relationship to other structures within the body, is one way in which the system may lend itself to applications allied to radiotherapy training. This project investigated whether VERT teaching facilitates enhanced learning of structural anatomy compared to traditional teaching techniques.
A counterbalanced mixed group design was used whereby students were offered tutorial support following their first and second anatomy lectures in the autumn semester. In Group 1 students attended tutorials incorporating the VERT system for the first anatomy topic (GI). Following the second anatomy topic (Urinary) students’ tutorial teaching styles were swapped over to Power-Point (Non-VERT). For Group 2 the reverse was true. At the end of the semester, students had a MCQ of topics covered during the semester. To assess whether VERT use effected learning of structural anatomy, questions covering the anatomy lectures were analysed to see if there was any significant difference in scoring depending on whether they had VERT or Non-VERT tutorials.
The overall average for Group 1 on the MCQ was 38.16 (SD=7.46) and 41.37 (SD=4.59) for Group 2. A 2x2 mixed ANOVA was run, with group (Group 1, Group 2) serving as the between subjects factor and anatomy topic (GI, Urinary) serving as the within subjects factor. No significant effects or interactions were found (ps >.05).
No significant impact of VERT teaching over traditional non-VERT teaching was found but the initial conclusion of no VERT effect should however be treated conservatively. In this experiment the participants VERT experience was largely passive, i.e. they observed the VERT system being used rather than actively using the system. The benefit of VERT use may lie in active use rather than passive observation; a common division in virtual reality/training literature.

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