Use Of XR Technologies to Trigger Interest in High School Students in a Construction Management Career

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Oliveira Spitzer, Barbara
Erdogmus, Ece
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The construction management skilled workforce in the United States is shrinking as a big number of its employees approach retirement and are not being replaced quickly enough by younger generations. According to the literature, pre-college educational programs can help address this issue by attracting a broader and more varied pool of students into Construction Management and related programs. The literature also indicates that the application of Extended Reality (XR) modalities generates student benefits such as increased engagement and self-efficacy that could be derived from bringing these modalities into educational settings. These benefits, in turn, help recruitment efforts for these domains. Georgia Tech’s School of Building Construction developed a Building Construction Summer Camp in 2022 using the Model of Domain (MDL) educational framework and its theory on triggering situational interest in students, to recruit students to the Bachelor of Science in Building Construction program. To trigger interest, memorable situational activities must be incorporated. As such, all camp activities were carefully selected to be engaging and memorable and included hands-on activities such as building a masonry wall with professional masons and use of advanced technology, such as Building Information Modeling (BIM) technology such as REVIT and Masonry iQ, infrared cameras, laser scanners, and various XR modalities. Pre- and post-surveys for the entire summer camp and shorter surveys after three specific activities using XR modalities were conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of the camp in triggering interest in the participants into pursuing a career in construction management. This thesis summarizes the evidence-based research results on the impact of these specific activities that used XR modalities as well as the overall camp on triggering situational interest in students. The post-camp survey results show a significant increase in the participants’ interest in a career in Construction Management after the camp. The findings contribute to the body of knowledge regarding the use of hands-on and XR-technology-based educational activities, specifically in the context of a summer camp for student recruitment purposes. Moreover, the findings provide an empirical foundation for developing a pre-college educational program to intrigue high school students' interests in the construction management domain. Analysis of the results also presents findings and recommendations useful to academia with respect to proper selection of XR modalities when different educational objectives and priorities are considered, such as student comfort. A limitation of the study is the small sample size, but data from future camps will be used to verify these findings.
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