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Digital Engineers: Results of a Survey Study Documenting Digital Media and Device Use Among Freshmen Engineering Students

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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

Best of Computers in Education Division

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.470.1 - 25.470.13



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Paper Authors

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Aditya Johri Virginia Tech Orcid 16x16

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Hon Jie Teo Virginia Tech


Jenny L. Lo Virginia Tech

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Jenny Lo is an Advanced Instructor in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. She has been the Co-coordinator of a first-semester introductory engineering course and has taught multiple first-year engineering courses.

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Asta B. Schram Virginia Tech

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Asta B. Schram is a Ph.D. student in educational psychology at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She has many years of experience teaching and leading at the K-12 education level. Her interest in motivation and learning has caused her to focus even more to teaching strategies and the psychology of motivation.

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Monique S. Dufour Virginia Tech

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Digital Engineers: Results of a Survey Study Documenting Digital Media and Device Use Among Freshmen Engineering StudentsAbstractThe current generation of college students has alternatively been dubbed Digital Natives,Generation Y and/or the Net Generation and seemingly possesses distinctive habits as well asperceptions about the use of digital media and device that set them apart from their predecessors.Despite the claim that these college students are avid consumers and users of media content anddevices, there is limited understanding about the media use habits of engineering studentsbelonging to this generation. Furthermore, we have any lower understanding of the influence ofdigital media and devices on the learning activities of engineering students. To better understandthe digital media and device habits of incoming engineering students we conducted a survey-based study at a large university in the United States. We designed the survey based on previousstudies of a similar nature that examined other youth populations and combined surveyinstruments and items from more than one study. Our survey was designed to collectedinformation from students about their use of different devices (such as mobile phones, laptops,desktops, digital music players, and so on) as well as their use of software applications andwebsites such as such as Skype, Twitter or Facebook. The survey further inquired about theirlearning habits and activities. The full survey consisted of 20 items each with several sub-itemsand was distributed to two separate groups of freshmen engineers. We obtained 204 valid andusable responses. Statistical analysis of the survey data uncovered that female freshmanengineering students are more active users of cellphone for communication purposes and spendmore time in information seeking activities on Wikipedia. We also found that users of Twitterare more likely to participate frequently in other social networking sites and information systemssuch as Blackboard or Wikipedia. Our survey also obtained self-reported information onfrequency of media device usage and the influences of media devices usage on social networking,academic activities and information seeking tendencies. Through this survey study not only arewe able to document the significant use of digital media and devices among engineering students,but are able to provide specific findings related to the role of digital media and devices onsocializing and learning activities of freshmen engineering students. We discuss the implicationsof our findings for designing new learning activities and curriculum. We also compare andcontrast our findings with findings of other student populations to evaluate similarities anddifferences among engineering students and students in other majors.

Johri, A., & Teo, H. J., & Lo, J. L., & Schram, A. B., & Dufour, M. S. (2012, June), Digital Engineers: Results of a Survey Study Documenting Digital Media and Device Use Among Freshmen Engineering Students Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21228

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