Research Papers: Design Education

Enhancing Engineering Students' Performance on Design Task: The Box of Parts

[+] Author and Article Information
Diana Bairaktarova

Department of Engineering Education,
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and
State University,
635 Prices Fork Road,
Blacksburg, VA 24061
e-mail: dibairak@vt.edu

William Graziano

School of Psychological Sciences,
Purdue University,
703 Third Street,
West Lafayette, IN 47907
e-mail: graziano@purdue.edu

Monica Cox

Department of Engineering Education,
Ohio State University,
2070 Neil Avenue,
Columbus, OH 43210
e-mail: cox.1192@osu.edu

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Design Education Committee of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF MECHANICAL DESIGN. Manuscript received January 12, 2016; final manuscript received December 29, 2016; published online March 23, 2017. Assoc. Editor: Gul E. Okudan Kremer.

J. Mech. Des 139(5), 052001 (Mar 23, 2017) (9 pages) Paper No: MD-16-1018; doi: 10.1115/1.4036128 History: Received January 12, 2016; Revised December 29, 2016

Most definitions of engineering give machines and mechanical objects a central role. Engineers are makers and users of mechanical objects in their environment. Research supports the notion that interactions with engineered artifacts enhance engineering learning. This study introduces a task simulating a real-world engineering application and uses this task to examine how aptitudes, interests, and direct manipulation of mechanical objects influence performance. We hypothesized that engineering students would generate better assembly instructions when they had the box of component parts (BOP) than when they had the engineering drawing only. We also hypothesized that student's mechanical aptitude (MA) and interests in things each would interact with experimental condition's impact on performance. First-year engineering students (N = 383) created assembly instructions in a mixed experimental and correlational design. A random half was assigned to create instructions with a drawing only, whereas the other half created with both a drawing and a box of component parts present. Assembly instructions were evaluated by professional engineers blind to experimental conditions. They rated instructions from the BOP group as superior to those coming from the control group. Students with greater mechanical aptitude received better evaluations, but there was no evidence the experimental variable was moderated either by mechanical aptitude or by thing orientation (TO). This study suggests that mechanical objects can enhance engineering instruction, especially when they are aligned with professional practice.

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Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

Control and experimental groups (mean values)

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

Mechanical aptitude and condition. Scale:  Y−axis  is  one  of  the  criteria  for  performance  1 to  5;  X−axis  is  the  mechanical  aptitude  score  scale  0 to  54.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

Thing orientation and condition. Scale:  Y−axis   is  one  of  the  criteria  for  performance  1 to  5; X−axis  is  the  thing  orientation  scale  1 to  5.



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