Middle School Students' Learning of the Impact of Methamphetamine Abuse on the Brain

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Title: Middle School Students' Learning of the Impact of Methamphetamine Abuse on the Brain
Author: Cheng, Meng-Tzu
Advisors: Leonard A. Annetta, Committee Chair
John E. Penick, Committee Member
Glenda S. Carter, Committee Member
Christopher B. Mayhorn, Committee Member
Abstract: In respond to the solicitation of National Institute on Drug Use (NIDA) (NIDA, 2006) for the “Development of a Virtual Reality Environment for Teaching about the Impact of Drug Abuse on the Brain†, a virtual brain exhibit was developed by the joint venture of Entertainment Science, Inc. and Virtual Heroes, Inc.. This exhibit included a virtual reality learning environment combined with a video game, aiming at improving the neuroscience literacy of the general public, conveying knowledge about the impacts of methamphetamine abuse on the brain to the population, and establishing a stronger concept of drug use prevention amongst children. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of this interactive exhibit on middle school students’ understanding and attitudes toward drug use. Three main research questions are addressed: 1) What do students learn about basic concepts of neuroscience and the impact of methamphetamine abuse on the brain via the exhibit? 2) How are students’ attitudes toward methamphetamine use changed after exposure to the exhibit? 3) What are students’ experiences and perceptions of using the exhibit to learn the impact of methamphetamine abuse on the brain? A mixed-method design, including pre/post/delayed-post test instruments, interviews, and video recordings, were conducted for 98 middle school students ranging from sixth to eighth grades to investigate these questions. The results show that students’ understanding of the impact of methamphetamine abuse on the brain significantly improved after exposure to the exhibit regardless of grade or gender. Their pre-existing knowledge and their understanding after the exhibit indicated a progressive tendency. Most of the students consistently expressed negative attitudes toward general methamphetamine use regardless of whether it was before or after exposure to the exhibit. However, this exhibit gave them a better reason and made them feel more confident to refuse drugs. Finally, student learning experiences through using the exhibit was a self-regulated learning process. This exhibit possessed several intrinsic values that motivated students to participate and persist in the activity, whereby students performed several cognitive and metacognitive strategies to help the learning activity to best fit individual learning styles and to make the cognitive processes more efficient.
Date: 2009-07-07
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Science Education
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/5796

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