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Electronic Notebooks to Document the Engineering Design Process: From Platform to Impact

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Innovative Use of Technology I

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.591.1 - 26.591.13



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Paper Authors


Rachel Louis Kajfez Ohio State University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Rachel Louis Kajfez is an Assistant Professor of Practice in the Engineering Education Innovation Center and the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geodetic Engineering at The Ohio State University. She earned her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Civil Engineering from Ohio State and earned her Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Virginia Tech. Her research interests focus on the intersection between motivation and identity of undergraduate and graduate students, first-year engineering programs, mixed methods research, and innovative approaches to teaching. Currently, she teaches within the first-year engineering program at Ohio State while maintaining an active engineering education research program.

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Krista M. Kecskemety Ohio State University

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Krista Kecskemety is a Senior Lecturer in the Engineering Education Innovation Center at The Ohio State University. Krista received her B.S. in Aerospace Engineering at The Ohio State University in 2006 and received her M.S. from Ohio State in 2007. In 2012, Krista completed her Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering at Ohio State. Her engineering education research interests include investigating first-year engineering student experiences, faculty experiences, and the connection between the two.

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Max Kross Engineering Education Innovation Center

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Max Kross is a teaching assistant in the Engineering Education Innovation Center at The Ohio State University. Max is pursuing a B.S. in Computer Science and Engineering at The Ohio State University.

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Electronic Notebooks to Document the Engineering Design Process: From Platform to ImpactAs technologies develop, the tools we use in our classes to support student learning are everevolving. While this change can provide avenues for new exploration and enhanced educationalexperiences, critically assessing these developments is essential to ensure that there are addededucational benefits to these new technologies and tools. This paper details an electronicnotebook that was implemented in select sections of a first-year engineering course to replace theuse of traditional paper-based notebooks. While the implementation seemed successful, criticalassessment data was collected to truly measure the impact of the change and new technology. Inthis paper we will report on the electronic notebooks themselves and the assessment results.Five out of nine sections of a first-year engineering course with approximately 32 students eachimplemented the electronic notebook. The notebooks were used to document a semester longdesign build project that included all phases of the engineering design process. A survey wasdistributed to all students across both the electronic notebook sections and traditional paper-based sections to assess students’ perceptions of the notebooks. The survey was developed usingbackwards design where specific learning objectives for the notebook, regardless of medium,were mapped to specific survey questions. Open ended survey questions were also asked togather additional details about the notebooks that were not captured elsewhere. We received 216(Electronic=124, Paper=92) responses to our survey (a response rate of 75%) and based on ourpreliminary analysis there are differences between the electronic and paper-based notebooks inspecific learning objectives. There were 4 learning objectives that exhibited large differences(>9%) in students who Agreed (A) and Strongly Agreed (SA) between the electronic notebookpopulation and the paper notebook population. Two objectives favored the electronic notebook:“Our notebook will be beneficial when applying for a job.” (Electronic=64%, Paper=52% A/SA)and “Use electronic data management systems (Google Docs, DropBox, etc.) (Electronic=92%,Paper=83% A/SA) to document the design process.” Whereas the other two objectives favoredstudents with the paper notebooks: “Our notebook is a good representation of the work I put intothe robot project.” (Electronic=57%, Paper=67% A/SA) and “Creating a notebook has helped merelate my technical skills to my professional skills.” (Electronic=63%, Paper=74% A/SA).To ensure that technological enhancements to our courses provide added educational benefits,critical assessments of changes must be conducted. This work is an example of that where asurvey was used to evaluate the impacts of an electronic notebook that replaces a traditionalpaper-based notebook. Based on our results, the implementation is a success and will beimplemented in all sections in the future.

Kajfez, R. L., & Kecskemety, K. M., & Kross, M. (2015, June), Electronic Notebooks to Document the Engineering Design Process: From Platform to Impact Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23929

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2015 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015