Alina Striner's Doctoral Dissertation Defense

Alina Striner's Doctoral Dissertation Defense

Training Citizens to Judge Stream Habits in MultiSensory Virtual Reality

April 15, 2019 | 1:00-2:00pm
HBK Room 2116

Citizen science is a form of crowdsourcing that allows volunteers to participate in scientific data collection and analysis. Many citizen scientists are engaged and motivated by science-based learning and discovery, but high training costs and limited resources often result in volunteers participating in unskilled work, leading to boredom and disengagement.

Advances in immersive virtual reality (VR) have created opportunities to recreate physical environments with minimal cost, making it possible to train citizen scientists to make qualitative experiential judgments that usually reserved for domain experts. This research trains citizen scientists to assess outdoor stream habitats using StreamBED VR, a multisensory VR training platform.  This research offers the following contributions:

1) A study of how expert and novice water monitors make qualitative  assessments of outdoor stream habitats using an EPA qualitative protocol.  

2) Iterative design of the Ambient Holodeck multisensory system, and a study of how ambient sensory information impacts observation skills.

3) Iterative design of the StreamBED VR training platform, and two studies exploring how qualitative assessment skills can be taught in VR.

The research shows that while VR has the potential to help train judgment tasks, training design is multifaceted and complex, full of theoretical learning considerations and practical challenges.  Further, VR realism can be a powerful tool for training, but is only effective when the training experience fully parallels assessment task experience.

Advisory Committee:
Jennifer Preece, Chair/Advisor
Dr. Kari Kraus
Dr. Beth Bonsignore
Dr. Niklas Elmqvist 
Dr. Amitabh Varshney, Dean’s Representative