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Faculty And Student Use Of Tablet Pcs: Perspectives On Their Pedagogical Effectiveness

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Re-Imagining the Higher Ed Classroom -- Tablet PCs

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.606.1 - 13.606.13



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Paper Authors


Camilla Saviz University of the Pacific

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Camilla M. Saviz is an Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of the Pacific. She received B.S. and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Clarkson University, an M.B.A. from the New York Institute of Technology, and a Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of California, Davis. She joined the University of the Pacific in 1999 and is a registered Professional Engineer in California.

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Abel Fernandez University of the Pacific

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Abel A. Fernandez is Professor of Civil Engineering and Director of the Engineering Management Program at the University of the Pacific. He received degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (B.S., Electric Power Engineering, M.E., Electric Power Engineering; MBA) and the University of Central Florida (Ph.D., Industrial Engineering). Prior to joining academia, he held positions of systems engineer and Director of Product Marketing with the Harris Corporation, Florida, the latter an executive level position within the Harris corporate structure. In 2000, he joined the University of the Pacific as Director of the Engineering Management Program.

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Ken Hughes Unversity of the Pacific

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Ken Hughes is an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of the Pacific. He received B.S. degree in Information and Computer Science from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and his M.S degree in Computer Science and his Ph.D degree in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of South Florida. While working on his bachelor's degree and prior to graduate studies he worked in the computer industry for firms in the Atlanta area. He joined the University of the Pacific in 1993. His research interests include computer graphics, robotics, AI and embedded systems.

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Megan Kalend University of the Pacific

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Megan K. Kalend is a student of Engineering Management at the University of the Pacific. She is currently on co-op at E. & J. Gallo Winery in Modesto, CA; responsible for materials management and process controls. On campus, she serves as president for the student chapter of the American Society for Engineering Management, and as treasurer for the Society of Women Engineers and Tau Beta Pi. She is also a student advisor for the University and enjoys coaching youth volleyball. She will graduate with a B.S. in 2009 and plans to attend graduate school for a M.S. in Engineering Management.

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Cherian Mathews University of the Pacific

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Cherian P. Mathews is an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of the Pacific. He received a B.E degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Anna University, Chennai, India, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University. Prior to joining the University of the Pacific in 2005, he held a faculty position at the University of Florida / University of West Florida Joint Program in Electrical and Computer Engineering. He has also held visiting faculty positions at Purdue University and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

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Faculty and Student Use of Tablet PCs: Perspectives on Their Pedagogical Effectiveness ABSTRACT

The Tablet PC is gaining in popularity as a digital teaching tool in engineering education. Instructors report its use as a flexible platform for seamless interweaving of lectures, software demonstrations, web access and other classroom needs: a single device functionally equivalent to a blackboard, computer, computer data projector and overhead projector. Much of the emphasis to date, however, has been on the instructor’s sole use of the Tablet PC: during the class period students still mostly rely on paper/pencil or traditional workstations. This paper presents instructors’ and students’ initial impressions on the use of Tablet PCs within selected courses in different engineering programs at the University of the Pacific.

As with any technological teaching tool, Tablet PCs have their advantages and disadvantages. Their main instructional advantage lies in their flexibility. Within the same class period, students can use the 'tablet' mode for annotating course notes using different colors or for developing a design, then link to the internet to gather data and information, and change to 'PC' mode to run a model and incorporate model results into their class notes. The simple feature that allows the screen to be oriented in different directions allows students to readily share their work and ideas with others, facilitating use of active learning group exercises in classes. One main advantage identified by students was the ability to organize and archive their class notes and associated materials. Despite some administrative issues such as boot-up time at the start of class and network connectivity issues from time to time, Tablet PCs were found to be appropriate for use in certain engineering courses and they can serve as effective multi-functional teaching and learning tools.


Means of instruction at a university can range from the simplest and traditional, black or whiteboards, to sophisticated Tablet PC-based settings allowing full student-student and student- instructor interaction1. A Tablet PC allows the user to annotate or draw directly on a variety of widely used software programs such as Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, together with programs specifically written for the Tablet PC, including Windows Journal and Classroom Presenter2,3. In addition, within a wirelessly networked environment, students and instructors can work between and among groups while still maintaining access to design software and online resources4. Whether simple or technologically advanced, effective teaching requires organization, clear and interactive classroom presentations, effective use of resources, and appropriate use of technology to promote student learning5. The Tablet PC can serve as a useful tool to help keep students engaged and enhance student learning6.

Twenty-one Tablet PCs, received in 2006 as part of a Hewlett Packard "Technology for Teaching" grant, are shared among all departments at the University of the Pacific, but are currently used for different courses taught in the Civil, Electrical, and Computer Engineering, and Engineering Management programs. Some types of courses may lend themselves more readily to use of Tablet PCs than others. For example, in design courses or courses that integrate

Saviz, C., & Fernandez, A., & Hughes, K., & Kalend, M., & Mathews, C. (2008, June), Faculty And Student Use Of Tablet Pcs: Perspectives On Their Pedagogical Effectiveness Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4474

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: © 2008 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