Seeing the Whole Challenge

A field, outdoors. In the foreground are multiple images, set in space, that look like billboards with words and graphs on them. There is a 3D map with bar graphs on it, and floating spheres of different colors, labeled , and with lines connect them to one another and to the bar graphs over the map.
Building a 3D diagram to make sense of various forms of data.

Visualizing the Wide Range of Factors in Elementary Education

The Imaging Research Center received a UMBC Center and Institute Departmentally-Engaged Research (CIDER) grant to validate a virtual reality (VR) environment for future teachers to learn the multiplicity of factors that impact the achievement of elementary school students. The virtual environment, currently going by the name of REVLR, is a systems engagement and exploration environment (SEEe), designed to represent multiple data types in multiple ways (graphs, videos, conceptual diagrams) simultaneously. This project supports novice teachers in orienting to the array of factors shaping literacy teaching and learning.

The virtual environment represents a variety of quantitative data on school achievement in Maryland, Baltimore City, and one school in particular, Lakeland Elementary and Middle School in Southwest Baltimore, with which UMBC has a longstanding relationship. The study selected a focal school in order to get a more holistic view of the factors impacting education achievement within an individual community. The 3D environment also includes qualitative data, represented on virtual screens within the virtual environment, such as 2D graphs and charts, text passages including landmark education-related legislation and notable quotations from educators, videos such as TED talks by renowned experts, and also, importantly, video interviews of adults who live and work in the Lakeland Elementary and Middle School community. The videos illuminated the complex interplay between neighborhood geography and history, including its cultural and demographic evolution, community aspirations, families’ experiences, the role of the community association, and the relationship between the school and the community. In that regard, in addition to presenting challenging factors, the project embraces both an asset-based and culturally responsive approach to teaching and learning, drawing on the funds of knowledge that already exist in school communities, rather than one that defines communities by their deficits. The goal of this project is to build pre-service teachers’ awareness of the communities in which they teach.

a person standing up and appearing to manipulate what is seen on in inserted computer screen image
A participant in the research study, Visualizing the Wide Range of Factors in K-12 Education

Once this study is complete, should the REVLR virtual environment show promise toward the team’s goal, a next phase of research will likely involve an extended collaboration with an educational program for future teachers and also, optimally, an organization charged with sustaining and improving educational achievement in Maryland.

You can learn more about the REVLR virtual environment here.

Researchers and Creators

Principal Investigators: Amy Tondreau, Assistant Professor of Education; Lee Boot, Director of the Imaging Research Center; Anita Komlodi, Associate Director of the Imaging Research Center, Associate Professor of Human-Centered Computing;

Co-Investigators: Tristan King, IRC Lead Software Developer; Ryan Zuber, IRC Technical Director, and Specialist in modeling and animation

Graduate and PhD Students

Study Design and Implementation: Priya Rajasagi, PhD Student of Human-Centered Computing

Education Research:

Kara Seidel, PhD, 2025, Language, Literacy, and Culture

Erik Wikane, Graduate Student of Education

Rajmi Doshi, Graduate Student of Education

Neha Nooka, Graduate Student of Data Science, Department of Information Systems

June Young, Graduate Student, Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering

Undergraduate Students

Lilly Mills, Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering


$50,000. 2023 UMBC’s Center and Institute Departmentally-Engaged Research (CIDER) grant

Publications & Presentations

Tondreau, A., Komlodi, A., Boot, L., Rajasagi, P., Wikane, E., Nooka, N., Doshi, R., King, T. & Seidel, K. (2024, April). Virtual Reality in Teacher Preparation: Constructing Possibilities for Orienting Novice Teachers to School Communities. American Educational Research Association Annual Conference, Philadelphia, PA.