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Current Perspectives on Augmented Reality in Medical Education: Applications, Affordances and Limitations

Authors Parsons D, MacCallum K

Received 18 November 2020

Accepted for publication 31 December 2020

Published 19 January 2021 Volume 2021:12 Pages 77—91


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Md Anwarul Azim Majumder

Video abstract presented by David Parsons.

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David Parsons,1 Kathryn MacCallum2

1Postgraduate Studies, The Mind Lab, Auckland, New Zealand; 2School of Educational Studies and Leadership, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

Correspondence: David Parsons
The Mind Lab, 99 Khyber Pass Road, Grafton, Auckland 1023, New Zealand
Tel +64 21 0610441

Abstract: This systematic review has been developed against a background of rapid developments in augmented reality (AR) technology and its application in medical education. The objectives are to provide a critical synthesis of current trends in the field and to highlight areas for further research. The data sources used for the study were the PubMed, Web of Science and Discover databases. Sources included in the study comprised peer reviewed journal articles published between 2015 and 2020. Inclusion criteria included empirical research findings related to learning outcomes and the populations for the selected studies were medical students. Studies were appraised in terms of to what extent the use of AR contributed to learning gains in knowledge and/or skill. Twenty-one studies were included in the analysis, and the dates of these suggested an increasing trend of publications in this area. The uses of AR in each selected study were analyzed through a lens of affordance, to identify which specific affordances of AR appear to be most effective in this domain. Results of the study indicated that AR seems to be more effective in supporting skill development rather than knowledge gain when compared to other techniques. Some key affordances of AR in medical education are identified as developing practical skills in a spatial context, device portability across locations and situated learning in context. It is suggested that a focus on relevant affordances when designing AR systems for medical education may lead to better learning outcomes. It is noted that the majority of AR systems reported in the selected studies are concentrated in the areas of anatomy and surgery, but that are also other areas of practice being explored, and these may provide opportunities for new types of AR learning systems to be developed for medical education.

Keywords: systematic review, literature review, empirical study, medical students, learning outcomes

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