June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
NSF Grantees Poster Session
26.713.1 - 26.713.10
Expanding Perception: How Students “See” FluidsSince 2003, an R1 university has offered a course called Flow Visualization (Flow Vis). It iscross-listed as a mechanical engineering elective and a fine arts studio course, and bringstogether mixed teams of engineering and fine arts photography or film students. It focuses on theproduction of aesthetically pleasing and scientifically useful images of fluid flows. Flow Visstudents have responded enthusiastically, with exit survey comments such as “I’ll never ignorethe sky again” or “I see examples of flow vis all the time now.”In prior work, these student reactions were linked with a positive shift in affect, which wemeasured through the Fluids Perception Survey. This outcome was in contrast to the surveyresults from Fluid Mechanics, a traditional engineering core course, with a highly analytic,mathematical approach. Exit surveys of students in Fluid Mechanic reveal a negative shift inaffect, which is typical of other technical courses.More specifically, the responses from Flow Vis students can be termed an expansion ofperception – when learners see everyday objects or events through the lens of the content (Pugh,2011). Expansion of perception is often associated with deeper conceptual understanding andthe ability to transfer learning to new settings. To investigate this expansion of perception, ourresearch has taken a two-prong approach.One approach looks at how individuals learn to perceive fluid flows and understand them.Working with colleagues in Psychology, we developed a visual expertise experiment.Preliminary results (n=6) demonstrated that subjects with no prior fluids knowledge can improvetheir perception of fluid flows, sorting images into turbulent and laminar categories, after onesession of feedback-driven training. These results have encouraged us to ramp up the complexityof the perception training. A future study will use a similar task to compare fluids students tosubjects with no prior fluids instruction. The eventual goal of this work is to create a reliable,valid measure that can gauge whether students of fluids are gaining visual expertise during asemester-long course, so that we can study the relationship between that expertise and conceptuallearning gains.The other approach examines the expansion of perception through the classroom culture of theFlow Vis course. We surveyed the class and interviewed a small group of students to betterunderstand how teaching practices and student learning intersect. What aspect of this coursehelps students, both from engineering and art, internalize and apply their understanding offluids? How can we adapt the teaching practices from Flow Vis for other courses, other contentareas?Taking these approaches together, we explore the relationship between experiential teachingmethods (exemplified by Flow Vis) and the expansion of perception. Analysis of data and futurecourse suggestions are discussed.
Goodman, K., & Hertzberg, J., & Curran, T., & Finkelstein, N. D. (2015, June), Expanding Perception: How Students “See” Fluids Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24050
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