Recent studies emphasize a positive impact of learning with augmented reality (AR) systems in various
instructional scenarios. Especially combining real and virtual learning components according to spatial and
temporal contiguity principles is claimed to foster learning and to reduce extraneous cognitive processing. We
applied these principles to a physics laboratory experiment examining heat conduction where students measure
the temperature along heated metal rods via a thermal imaging camera. However, the traditional setup leads to a
time delay between measuring and receiving data, and spatially separates relevant visualizations causing
resource-consuming search processes. Using see-through smartglasses, traditional displays were transformed into
virtual representations which were anchored to corresponding objects of the experimental setup, resulting in an
integrated AR view of real-time data. Both traditional and AR-assisted workflows of data collection were
investigated in a field study with undergraduate students (N ¼ 74) during a graded laboratory course. Performance and cognitive load were assessed as dependent variables. Although the AR condition did not show a
learning gain in a conceptual knowledge test, they nonetheless reported a significant lower extraneous cognitive
load than the traditional condition. These results contrast with recent findings on AR and integrated formats but
reveal a significant impact on cognitive load research.
Computer simulations of physical phenomena have been a staple of physics teaching for decades. However, most physics simulations are of the sort where a user picks initial conditions, hits a "start" button, and then watches to see what occurs. While such simulations can be very instructive, especially if the user experiments with a variety of conditions, it is somewhat of an exaggeration to call such simulations "interactive". Interactivity, specifically "interactive engagement", is seen by most physics education researchers as a critical component to any truly successful physics curriculum. Without engaging the students' minds, forcing them to participate in an active role, conceptual learning is minimal.