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Collaborative Learning in an Online-only Design for Manufacturability Course

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Design Related

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Taylor Tucker University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign

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Taylor Tucker graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor’s degree in engineering mechanics. She is interested in engineering design and lends her technical background to her research with the Collaborative Learning Lab, exploring how to improve ill-structured tasks for engineering students in order to promote collaborative problem solving and provide experience relevant to authentic work in industry. She also writes for the Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering at Illinois and is active on the leadership & administration team for the University’s Women in Engineering chapter.

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Nattasit Dancholvichit University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign

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Nattasit Dancholvichit was born in Bangkok, Thailand in 1990. He received a B.A. degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan in 2014. He received an M.S. degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2017.
He is currently a Ph.D. student in Mechanical Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. He carries out research in the field of micro-manufacturing, precision control, manufacturing, and mechatronics. His research also includes control optimization and system identification. He is also a graduate teaching assistant of design for manufacturability.

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Leon Liebenberg University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign Orcid 16x16

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Leon is a Teaching Associate Professor in mechanical science and engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is also a Fellow of the UIUC's Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning. Before coming to UIUC, he was a professor of mechanical engineering at two South African universities (University of Pretoria; North West University) and a higher education consultant in Switzerland where he worked with colleges of engineering and technology management.
Leon is passionate about multidisciplinary research, particularly in the fields of energy engineering, biomedical engineering, and engineering education. Together with UIUC colleagues in the ENGagement In eNgineering Education (ENGINE) instructional innovation team, Leon is evaluating a wide array of pedagogies of engagement. The intention is to promote deep learning and improved engagement of students in subject matter.
Leon teaches a variety of subjects, including: Innovation; Statics; Dynamics; Thermodynamics; Fluid Dynamics; Design for Manufacturability; Mechanical Design; Heat Transfer; Energy Conversion Systems; Aerodynamics; Aeronautics; and Advanced Heat and Mass Transfer. He holds a doctoral and two master’s degrees from Imperial College London and from the University of Johannesburg.

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In contemporary design for manufacturability education, the use of design-thinking (or human-centered design) and team-based design projects are ubiquitous. Students are taken on a journey to better appreciate synthesis of the “big picture” while considering an open-ended manufacturability problem from various perspectives and discovering the value in empathy and co-creation. However, with the onset of online-only modes of instruction to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic, meaningful collaborative learning has become challenging. Students regularly cite the lack of social interaction as a main reason for poor virtual teamwork and tend to display entrenched preference for face-to-face interactions to perform ideation and to understand or resolve issues, which hampers the use of online counterparts. However, online learning has brought to light several digital platforms that are easily customizable for online collaboration among students. When it comes to virtual ideation (or virtual “brainstorming”), effective generation of new ideas or concepts is difficult. Social media platforms like WeChat and GroupMe are beneficial for high-level idea-sharing; Zoom and other platforms might be similarly helpful. Still, engineering students tend to have trouble when using computer-aided drawing platforms that do not allow interactive collaboration in real-time. Instructors also must contend with student apprehension to use unfamiliar digital tools. Among several online collaborative platforms, Miro may pose a solution to these challenges, as it allows for synchronous interaction and captures essential elements of a face-to-face ideation environment. This platform could also facilitate empathy mapping and journey mapping labs, where team members would capture the team’s combined user knowledge and map-out user attitudes, behaviors, needs and pain points. This study investigates if and how the use of the Miro virtual ideation platform affects ideation of small teams of engineering students (n=165) in a sophomore-level design for manufacturability course. Questionnaires were used to evaluate 1) students’ perceived cognitive and emotional engagement when using Miro, 2) Miro’s utility in authentically subjecting students to aspects of human-centered design, and 3) the degree of psychological safety in Miro’s virtual collaborative environment. The effective use of online ideation tools, like Miro, is of paramount importance when engineering students are collaborating in an online-only learning environment. Findings from this study will provide insights toward the utility in adopting Miro for such purposes as well as help identify psychological issues that could be suitably addressed when using Miro. This study contributes to the body of knowledge pertaining to effective student engagement during online or hybrid modes of education.

Tucker, T., & Dancholvichit, N., & Liebenberg, L. (2021, July), Collaborative Learning in an Online-only Design for Manufacturability Course Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36808

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