The evolution of tactile and digital learning preferences in undergraduate engineering education

Conrad S. Tucker, Kathy Schmidt Jackson, Linda C. Schmidt, Gul E.Okudan Kremer, Peifeng Yin

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

The objective of this research is to investigate how student preferences towards digital/virtual and hands-on/tactile learning evolve at different stages of undergraduate engineering education. Within the context of this research, digital learning techniques refer to the use of virtual environments to communicate educational concepts and activities; and hands-on learning relates to the physical handling of objects. Inevitably, certain characteristics of hands-on interactions (e.g., experiencing texture or weight of objects) are difficult to translate to the digital space. Certain characteristics of digital interactions (e.g., digital augmentation of objects) are difficult or infeasible to accomplish during hands-on interactions. While research findings have determined that both digital and hands-on learning are relevant in shaping student experiences in engineering courses, deeper insight into the magnitude of these preferences across grade levels remains limited. Outstanding research questions include, for example: do freshmen students prefer a different learning style compared to senior students? Are senior students equipped to utilize the industry techniques that are heavily digital or tactile oriented? Understanding the evolution of student preferences towards these learning styles would provide valuable insights to instructors and researchers aiming to enhance engineering education by determining when/where to emphasize a certain pedagogy during the undergraduate engineering experience. This research is a multi-institutional collaboration between Penn State University and the University of Maryland. Freshmen and senior engineering students are included in this study in order to quantify the differences between digital and hands-on learning: 1) across engineering grade levels, and 2) across different engineering course types. This paper will provide preliminary evidence on how student preferences evolve as they progress through their engineering curricula. Such insights will inform researchers and industry about the preparedness level of the next generation work force in their ability to design physical systems for the real world, while concurrently taking into account the rapidly evolving shift towards digital simulation models and online collaborative environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014
Event121st ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: 360 Degrees of Engineering Education - Indianapolis, IN, United States
Duration: Jun 15 2014Jun 18 2014

Other

Other121st ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: 360 Degrees of Engineering Education
CountryUnited States
CityIndianapolis, IN
Period6/15/146/18/14

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)

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