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Enhancing Student Learning In Engineering Technology Programs ? A Case For Physical Simulations

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Student Learning and Teamwork

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.672.1 - 12.672.9



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Paper Authors

author page

Alok Verma Old Dominion University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Enhancing Student Learning in Engineering Technology Programs – A Case for Physical Simulations


Physical simulations have a proven record as a teaching tool. Concepts that are often hard to grasp are made easy by the use of physical simulation activities. The constructivism learning theory suggests that people learn better by actively participating in the process of learning. According to the Encyclopedia of Educational Technology, "Simulation-based learning involves the placement of a student into a realistic scenario or situation. The student is then responsible for any changes that occur as a result of their decisions."

A number of physical simulation based tools have been developed by the author for use as instructional tools to enhance student learning. A description of each of these tools is provided along with their implementation in the class-room environment. A number of these tools were pilot tested in the computer integrated manufacturing course in the mechanical engineering technology program. Student evaluations indicate a marked increase in learning and comprehension of manufacturing concepts.

I. Introduction

Organizational change to enhance productivity is a topic of interest to many organizations seeking to improve global competitiveness. Organizational change often involves change in culture of the employees and how they view their work. Many productivity enhancement philosophies like Lean and Six Sigma emphasize the importance of cultural change as a prerequisite for sustaining the improvements made as a result of these philosophies. Retention of knowledge is often a function of how well the concepts are understood. This is where the physical simulations have their greatest impact as a learning and productivity enhancement tool.

Major mass and batch producers in the United States have adopted Lean and Six Sigma philosophies to minimize waste and improve operational efficiency1. A number of these organizations have failed in implementing these philosophies2, 3 & 8. This is primarily due to lack of sufficient number of trained employees to reach a critical mass for organizational transformation. Training all employees in the principles of Lean and Six Sigma is a critical part of the organizational transformation process. Higher education has also lagged behind in incorporating Lean and Six Sigma philosophies into the educational curriculum. A limited number of universities are offering graduate and undergraduate courses in Lean manufacturing. An initial survey of higher education indicated that only ten universities had a course in lean manufacturing and out of these only three were using physical simulation as a tool for teaching Lean.

Verma, A. (2007, June), Enhancing Student Learning In Engineering Technology Programs ? A Case For Physical Simulations Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1551

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