Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Computer and Information Technology

First Advisor

Alejandra Magana

Committee Chair

Alejandra Magana

Committee Member 1

Bedrich Benes

Committee Member 2

Andrew Hirsch


With abundant applications in the medical training and entertainment industry, haptic technology is slowly making its way into the realm of science education, particularly in conveying abstract and non-visible concepts. Electric field is one such abstract concept. Past studies have shown that learning concepts such as electric fields in a traditional classroom can be quite challenging since students have a hard time visualizing the phenomena and applying its effects to reason. Furthermore, these concepts are the building blocks for more complex concepts such as matter and molecular interactions. Visuo-haptic devices provide a great platform to enable students to visualize and 'feel' these invisible forces through well designed simulations. The theory of embodied cognition poses that human body’s sensorimotor experiences with the environment is critical to build conceptual knowledge. This research study explored undergraduate students’ embodied experiences with haptic devices and their perceptions of learning electric fields with the help of visuo-haptic simulations. The results from the study using think-aloud protocol suggest that students were not only able to translate the haptic feedback to gain conceptual understanding of electric field concepts, but were also able to represent these concepts through more accurate and complete electric field diagrams.