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Haptic Abilities and Their Impact on Teaching and Learning in the STEM Fields

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

K-12 and Pre-College Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.662.1 - 24.662.5



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Paper Authors

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Nancy E. Study Pennsylvania State University, Erie


Robert Edwards Pennsylvania State University, Erie

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Bob Edwards has a BS in mechanical engineering from Rochester Institure of Technology and a MS in mechanical engineering from Gannon University. He is currently a Lecturer of Engineering at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. He teaches in the Mechanical Engineering Technology department. His primary teaching interests are in the fluid and thermal sciences, and teaches Thermodynamics and Heat Transfer. Additionally, he teaches a variety of other courses including Basic Electricity for MET, Statics and Dynamics.

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Haptic Abilities and Their Impact on Teaching and Learning in the STEM FieldsHaptic ability refers to an individual’s sensitivity to touch and the ability to combine partialtactile information about an object into a whole mental image. These abilities are important toengineers, technologists, and others in the STEM fields. The Haptic Visual Discrimination Test(HVDT) is a standardized test used to measure tactile sensitivity.Previous studies have shown that students entering into the STEM fields tend to have higherhaptic abilities, as measured by the HVDT, than the population as a whole. In one of thosestudies, a sample of over 200 freshman engineering students was found to have haptic abilities atone standard deviation above the mean expected for neurotypical adults over the age of 18. Theauthors of this paper are proposing a study to determine if college students preparing to becometeachers in the STEM fields have similar abilities as the students they will be teaching. The studywill be conducted in three phases. The goal of phase 1 is to gather additional data on incomingfreshman engineering and engineering technology students to verify previous research resultsindicating high haptic abilities based on HVDT scores. Phase 2 will focus on the testing ofcollege students who plan to become elementary or secondary STEM teachers. During phase 3we will analyze the data to determine if there is any difference among three groups – the overallpopulation of adults (data already exists), freshmen engineering students, and future STEMteachers. The results of these three phases will help to determine the focus of future research inthis area including outreach to increase knowledge of the importance of haptic activities inSTEM instruction.The paper will contain detailed information on previous research on the haptic abilities offreshman engineering and technology students and its relevance to classroom instruction,followed by a discussion of current trends in STEM education in elementary and secondaryschools. The need to assess the haptic tendencies of future STEM teachers will be addressedalong with plans for future research based on the outcomes of the HVDT testing. The importanceof precollege instruction to the success of engineering and engineering technology students willalso be discussed.

Study, N. E., & Edwards, R. (2014, June), Haptic Abilities and Their Impact on Teaching and Learning in the STEM Fields Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20553

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