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Do Haptic Representations Help Complex Molecular Learning?
Linköping University, Department of Science and Technology, Media and Information Technology. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.
School of Psychology, University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham, NG7 2RD, U.K..
Linköping University, Department of Science and Technology, Media and Information Technology. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology. (Visual Learning and Communication)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4694-5611
2011 (English)In: Science Education, ISSN 0036-8326, E-ISSN 1098-237X, Vol. 95, no 4, 700-719 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study explored whether adding a haptic interface (that provides users with somatosensory information about virtual objects by force and tactile feedback) to a three-dimensional (3D) chemical model enhanced students' understanding of complex molecular interactions. Two modes of the model were compared in a between-groups pre- and posttest design. In both modes, users could move and rotate virtual 3D representations of the chemical structures of the two molecules, a protein and a small ligand molecule. In addition, in a haptic mode users could feel the interactions (repulsive and attractive) between molecules as forces with a haptic device. Twenty postgraduate students (10 in each condition) took pretests about the process of protein--ligand recognition before exploring the model in ways suggested by structured worksheets and then completing a posttest. Analysis addressed quantitative learning outcomes and more qualitatively students' reasoning during the learning phase. Results showed that the haptic system helped students learn more about the process of protein–ligand recognition and changed the way they reasoned about molecules to include more force-based explanations. It may also have protected students from drawing erroneous conclusions about the process of protein–ligand recognition observed when students interacted with only the visual model.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 95, no 4, 700-719 p.
Keyword [en]
Haptic learning, multimodality, molecular interactions, protein-ligand docking
National Category
Didactics Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Media and Communication Technology
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-60354DOI: 10.1002/sce.20439OAI: diva2:356433
Available from: 2010-10-12 Created: 2010-10-12 Last updated: 2016-05-04
In thesis
1. Touching the Essence of Life: Haptic Virtual Proteins for Learning
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Touching the Essence of Life: Haptic Virtual Proteins for Learning
2010 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation presents research in the development and use of a multi-modal visual and haptic virtual model in higher education. The model, named Chemical Force Feedback (CFF), represents molecular recognition through the example of protein-ligand docking, and enables students to simultaneously see and feel representations of the protein and ligand molecules and their force interactions. The research efforts have been divided between educational research aspects and development of haptic feedback techniques.

The CFF model was evaluated in situ through multiple data-collections in a university course on molecular interactions. To isolate possible influences of haptics on learning, half of the students ran CFF with haptics, and the others used the equipment with force feedback disabled. Pre- and post-tests showed a significant learning gain for all students. A particular influence of haptics was found on students reasoning, discovered through an open-ended written probe where students' responses contained elaborate descriptions of the molecular recognition process.

Students' interactions with the system were analyzed using customized information visualization tools. Analysis revealed differences between the groups, for example, in their use of visual representations on offer, and in how they moved the ligand molecule. Differences in representational and interactive behaviours showed relationships with aspects of the learning outcomes.

The CFF model was improved in an iterative evaluation and development process. A focus was placed on force model design, where one significant challenge was in conveying information from data with large force differences, ranging from very weak interactions to extreme forces generated when atoms collide. Therefore, a History Dependent Transfer Function (HDTF) was designed which adapts the translation of forces derived from the data to output forces according to the properties of the recently derived forces. Evaluation revealed that the HDTF improves the ability to haptically detect features in volumetric data with large force ranges.

To further enable force models with high fidelity, an investigation was conducted to determine the perceptual Just Noticeable Difference (JND) in force for detection of interfaces between features in volumetric data. Results showed that JNDs vary depending on the magnitude of the forces in the volume and depending on where in the workspace the data is presented.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2010. 78 p.
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Dissertations, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 1332
Haptics, Educational Research, Biomolecular Education, Life Science, JND, Just Noticeable Difference, Protein-ligand Docking, Haptic docking, Visualization, Haptic Transfer Functions, Volume Data Haptics, History Dependent Transfer Function, Log file analysis, Molecular Recognition, Force Feedback, Virtual Reality
National Category
Other Computer and Information Science
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-58994 (URN)978-91-7393-341-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2010-10-01, The Dome Theater, Visualization Center C, Kungsgatan 54, Norrköping, Norrköping, 09:30 (English)
Available from: 2010-10-12 Created: 2010-09-06 Last updated: 2016-05-04Bibliographically approved

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