HOW TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENTS IMPACT ENGINEERING DESIGN LEARNING: A CASE STUDY IN PRODUCT DISSECTION

Open Access
Author:
Spencer, Cailyn E
Area of Honors:
Industrial Engineering
Degree:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Dr. Scarlett MIller, Thesis Supervisor
  • Dr. Catherine Harmonosky, Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • Technology
  • Education
  • Learning
  • Virtual Reality
  • CAD/Features
Abstract:
The rise of university resident undergraduate student populations and the increase of online learning have led educators to rethink the way that they teach engineering courses, particularly with their use of technology. One such area that has received particular exploration is hands-on learning opportunities, such as product dissection, or the systematic disassembly of a product in order to gain overall understanding. While initially deployed in physical classrooms, recent research and technological advancements have led to the exploration of product dissection in virtual environments. This approach provides a low-cost alternative to physical dissection and provides students with a greater opportunity to dissect many products. However, the impact of different virtual interfaces (computer, iPad, and immersive virtual reality) on engineering learning within the virtual realm have been understudied, prompting the current investigation. Specifically, the current thesis was developed to understand the impact of technology on learning, satisfaction, and perceived effort in product dissection through an experimentation with 18 undergraduate engineering students at The Pennsylvania State University. The results of this thesis show that different virtual interfaces did not impact student learning (as assessed by the Student Learning Assessment). However, perceived learning and satisfaction were highest for the immersive virtual reality system. In addition, the complexity of the product dissected had a significantly negative association with learning. Finally, there was no significant difference in the amount of perceived effort needed in order to complete the dissection across the different virtual interfaces. These results indicate that while a virtual interface may be perceived to provide a greater learning ability, it is actually the complexity of the product that is truly indicative of the overall learning. These findings provide much needed insights into the effects of technology integration and hands-on learning in the engineering classroom.