Pedagogy and AR

I have been interested in the potential of the application of Augmented Reality (AR) in the classroom setting since reading about and conducting more research on it for another class. I had read an article looking at the impacted AR had on a preschool class in Malaysia and I was intrigued at how involved the students were with their learning and how they wanted to learn. I have tried to find ways to integrate this into my room thinking it would be engaging for the students, but the resources are limited.

As I was looking for articles to review, I sort of stumbled onto this article titled, How do pedagogical approaches affect the impact of augmented reality on education? A meta-analysis and research synthesis. This was something that I felt tied into my interest from my previous readings and would provide more insight which may prove to be valuable in the future. In the article the authors, Juan Garzón, Kinshuk, Silvia Baldiris, Jamie Gutiérrez,  and Juan Pavón, uses meta-analysis to determine if there is a connection between the benefits to implementing AR in the classroom to pedagogical factors implemented.


This meta-analysis is fundamentally rooted in pedagogical approaches and the impact it has on learning outcomes when combined with AR. This information is essential to understanding the implications of the overall results of the study.

Pedagogical approaches:

Garzón et al. (2020) point out that there is no one agreed upon learning theory that is universal. However, constructivism is the considered the most popular in regards to education technology. They proceed to explain the three categories of constructivism. These include; cognitive constructivism, social constructivism, and radical constructivism. Cognitive constructivism focuses on the way individuals make meaning in relation to their experience and ideas. Under social constructivism the focus is on the social aspect of meaning making, and under radical constructivism the idea is that meaning making is fully constructed not something that is perceived via the senses.

There are a great number of learning approaches that can be taken when working with students. Those that link to constructivism and that are often used in conjunction with AR are collaborative learning, Inquiry based learning, Situated learning, Project based learning and cognitive theory of Multimedia learning (Garzón et al., 2020).

Collaborative learning (CL) involves having interactions amongst groups of individual prompting learning. The idea is that social interaction allows students to communicate and work together to explain and solve problems and find solutions.

Inquiry based learning (IBL) involves having individuals to propose a problem, poses questions, and to research an answer. In this situation, the learner is gaining knowledge by immersing themselves in a topic.

Situated learning (SL) is grounded in the idea that learning needs to occur in the context in which it will take place. Technology can help to simulate this environment for learners.

Projected-based learning (PBL) is a student-centered approach to learning where the student works for an extend time on a particular project (complex question, problem, or challenge). This allows students to solve real world problem and work with those doing the same.

Cognitive theory of multimedia learning (CTML) is the idea that individuals will learn more through the merging words and visuals, than from just words alone. Multimedia allows presenting text, graphics, video, animation, and sound in an integrated way to facilitate collaboration and provide an effective means to create and enhance constructivist approaches (Garzón et al., 2020).


The beginning of the article points out that there are numerous studies that have demonstrated the positive impacts that AR can have on learning outcomes. Garzón et al. point out that studies of the past have failed to definitively determine if it was AR that was solely responsible for the positive outcomes or if there were other factors. They used their meta-analysis to determine if there were other factors that may have impacted the learning outcomes.

There were two main objectives stated in this article. These objectives are: (1) Examine whether the pedagogical approach affects the impact of AR on students’ learning outcomes. (2) Identify the impact of the learning environment and the intervention duration on students’ learning outcomes in AR interventions.


In order to promote transparency and limit bias the Researchers used he Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis (PRISMA). PRISMA provides guidelines to 1.) collect studies, 2.) code study features, 3.) calculate the ES of each study, and 4.) investigate moderating effects of study’s characteristics (Garzón et al., 2020).

Inclusion in the analysis:

Garzón et al. (2020) started with 635 studies, which they eventually narrowed down to 46 studies using the PRISMA flow chart and their inclusion criteria. Criteria that studies needed to meet were as follows:

  • The study measures the impact of AR on students’ learning gains as an outcome variable.
  • The study includes a control condition (pretest-posttest or control group-experimental group).
  • The study provides enough information to calculate the ES.
  • The study provides information on the pedagogical approach of the intervention.
  • The study is written in English.

Calculating Effect Size:

The meta-analysis by Garzón et al. used studies of varying research design, therefore in order to integrate them and calculate an accurate representation of the impacts, Garzón et al. implemented Cohens d effect size. The guidelines for interpreting the ES values were=d.2 (small effect),=d.5 (medium effect),=d.8 (large effect),=d1.2(very large effect), and=d2.0 (Huge effect).

Other factors:

Other factors that came into play during the analysis were learning environment and intervention duration. The learning environment included formal setting (FS) such as the classroom or laboratory. The informal setting may have included places such as a field trip, or other locations.


When looking explicitly at pedagogical impacts the ES of the CL approach ( d=0.85) indicated it to be the most beneficial when implementing AR for learning. The ES for CTML (d=.076), IBL (d=.073), and PBL (d=.074) were classified as being medium/high. CTML is the most versatile and has been used in a variety of areas of education. AR in IBL has been widely used in the areas involving the sciences, because it allows for realistic substitutes for students to explore (Garzón et al., 2020).  SL’s ES was found to be medium at d=0.59. Garzón et al. (2020) explain that this is the most popular in education because it is easily adapted for a variety of educational conditions.

ES was also calculated for earning environment. These were very close with d=.071 for the formal environment and d=.073 for the informal environment. While it suggests that the informal environment may have a better outcome, it is important to note that there was only one viable study for this category and the results were considered inconclusive.

Intervention duration is also critical to the learner outcomes. The ES showed that most benefit occurred when the duration lasted between one week to one month (Garzón et al., 2020).  Garzón et al. (2020) acknowledge that this is a contradiction to what other studies have shown that it is most positive when used briefly while other studies have indicated that the benefits occur over a longer period of use.

Personal Reflections:

I am not surprised to find that overall AR has positive learner outcomes. When thinking about the capabilities it has, to bring experiences into the classroom that otherwise may not be possible, it makes sense that it has a positive impact.  When considering which pedagogical approach is most beneficial, I can’t specifically say I was distinctly leaning toward on method over another. Collaborative learning wasn’t my first inclination though, I sort of was more partial toward situated learning, given that you can provide the environment or situations. The first thing that I think about is learning about health care and being able to use AR to simulate the inside of a body.  The more I reflect on the overall concept and the results I start thinking that many of these styles can work together. For example, it could be a group working together in a situated learning environment to learn about a topic or to solve a problem. I may be thinking too much. I just don’t believe things are always as simple as they are presented on paper.

The next thing to consider is that Garzón et al. only looked at constructivist learning theories. I wonder if there would be a different outcome if other theories were included in the analysis.  There is the possibility that the influence of a different theory may yield a different result. I haven’t had a chance to delve into this much yet.

My next pondering about the study is twofold it was to do with the idea of use of the word intervention and the duration component of the study. To me the idea of intervention is when a student struggling and is given extra time to practice a skill. I am struggling to visualize what an AR intervention would look like. In my mind AR would be an addition to an instructional lesson to enhance the learning and promote the mastering of the objective or skill.  If we consider the idea of intervention in the tradition sense of additional time to practice a skill, and use a k-5 perspective. We are expected to give an intervention a minimum of six weeks before determining the impact of the intervention. In this study, the results indicated the ideal time was between one week to one month. I can’t imagine one week of any intervention creating a profound affect.  With all these thoughts keeping me up (literally) I would be interested to know if integrating AR into learning on a regular basis would improve student learning long term, or would it just be a novelty that students would soon become bored with?


Garzón, J., Kinshuk, Baldiris, S., Gutiérrez, J., & Pavón, J. (2020). How do pedagogical approaches affect the impact of augmented reality on education? A meta-analysis and research synthesis. Educational Research Review31.

PRISMA, transparent Reporting of Systemic Reviews and Meta-analyses. (2015). retrieved October 1, 2020.

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