Designing pedagogically effective haptic systems for learning: A review

Riley Crandall, Ernur Karadoğan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Haptic technology enables users to utilize their sense of touch while engaging with a virtual representation of objects in a simulated environment. It is a bidirectional technology in that it facilitates the interaction between the user and these virtual representations by allowing them to apply force onto one another, which is analogous to our real-world interactions with physical objects as action-reaction pairs. The sense of touch is a powerful and innate learning tool that we readily employ starting from very early ages as infants even before learning to walk. Therefore, it is natural that incorporating haptic technology into pedagogical methods has been an active research area as it has significant potential to enrich the learning experience and provide an engaging environment for learners. In this paper, we reviewed studies from various disciplines that incorporate haptics to increase the quality of teaching and learning while emphasizing the underlying cognitive theories. In that direction, we describe two of the most common cognitive theories, the Cognitive Load and Embodied Cognition theories, that developers use to support haptic technology’s implications and use in learning environments. We then explore the effects of haptic design on its current applicability following these two theories. Finally, we summarize the best design practices to develop haptic simulations for learning, address gaps in current research, and propose new research directions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6245
JournalApplied Sciences (Switzerland)
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 2 2021


  • Cognitive load theory
  • Educational design
  • Embodied cognition
  • Haptics


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