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A Formal Assessment of the Haptic Paddle Laboratories in Teaching System Dynamics

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Learning and Assessment III

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.49.1 - 25.49.15



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Paper Authors


Jenna L. Gorlewicz Vanderbilt University

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Jenna L. Gorlewicz received her B.S. in mechanical engineering from Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, in 2008. She is currently in the forth year of her Ph.D. work in mechanical engineering at Vanderbilt University, and she is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. Her current research interests are in developing novel devices and methods for engineering education, including haptic touch screen interfaces to help teach graphical mathematics concepts to blind children.

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Robert James Webster III Vanderbilt University

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Robert J. Webster III received his B.S. degree in electrical engineering from Clemson University in 2002 and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering from the Johns Hopkins University in 2004 and 2007, respectively.
In 2008, he joined the faculty of Vanderbilt University as an Assistant Professor of mechanical engineering, where he currently directs the Medical & Electromechanical Design Laboratory. His current research interests include medical robotics, image-guided surgery, continuum robotics, and engineering education. Webster received the NSF CAREER Award in 2011, and the IEEE Volz award for Ph.D. thesis impact in 2011.

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A Formal Assessment of the Haptic Paddle as a Teaching Tool in System DynamicsIn this paper, we present a formal assessment of the haptic paddle, a one degree of freedomforce-feedback joystick that has been adopted at several universities as a teaching tool inSystem Dynamics. System Dynamics is a core mechanical engineering undergraduate coursethat requires students to combine their knowledge from physics and differential equations tomodel dynamic systems in several domains. Gaining an intuitive understanding of the coreconcepts in this course is often difficult for students, particularly when they lack interactionwith a real physical system. The haptic paddle is an ideal platform to address this issue as itcontains all of the core components of a simple dynamic system, which students analyze andmodel throughout the semester, while also enabling students to interact with and physically“feel” the behavior of several virtual dynamic systems. Further, prior qualitativeassessments of the device have shown that both students and educators find it beneficial inconveying the core concepts of the course.In order to complement these previous qualitative assessments, which contained mostlyopen ended questions, we have conducted a systematic assessment of the haptic paddlelaboratories in order to provide a more formal insight into their learning benefits. Weadministered a 25 question quiz at the beginning of the semester to assess students’ initialunderstanding of the course material. This multiple choice question quiz, separated into setsof 5 questions for each of the 5 laboratories, covered the core concepts in each laboratory.Throughout the semester, we administered the appropriate 5 question quiz to each of ourfour different laboratory sections, randomizing presentation at (1) the beginning of a labsession, (2) after a pre-lab lecture, (3) after completing the lab, and (4) after completing thelab report. This assessment architecture enables us to assess the lab and lecture componentsindependently, providing insight into whether and when student learning occurs. Analysis of2 years of data will be presented, followed by a discussion of future planned improvementsfor the laboratories based on the assessment results.

Gorlewicz, J. L., & Webster, R. J. (2012, June), A Formal Assessment of the Haptic Paddle Laboratories in Teaching System Dynamics Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--20809

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