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Incorporating Active Learning into the Graphical Communications Course

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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

Innovative Graphics Instruction

Tagged Division

Engineering Design Graphics

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.728.1 - 24.728.8



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Paper Authors


Lulu Sun Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Univ., Daytona Beach

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Lulu Sun is an associate professor in the Department of Freshman Engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, where she has taught since 2006. She received her B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Harbin Engineering University (China), in 1999, and her Ph.D. degree in Mechanical Engineering from University of California, Riverside, in 2006. Before joining Embry-riddle, she worked in the consulting firm of Arup at Los Angeles office as a fire engineer. Her research interests include engineering education and its pedagogies. She is a professional member of the Society of Fire Protection Engineer, and a member of American Society of Engineering Education.

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From passive learning to active learning: improve students critical thinking skills in the  Graphical Communications course  An active learning is a student centered learning strategy which has gained considerable attention in higher education, but mostly has been applied to business and arts and sciences. In the engineering field, students still prefer the passive learning which means the teacher centered learning in their engineering area. They listen, take notes, and follow the instruction to do the homework as required. They may be not used to student centered learning in the class. Literatures showed that active learning has led to better student attitudes and improvements in students’ thinking and writing. The challenges of utilizing active learning are: time consuming; increased work load; possible worse end of course evaluation; no cooperation in the class.  Graphical Communications course is a freshmen level course and it is designed to familiarize the students with the basic principles of drafting and engineering drawing, to improve three dimensional (3D) visualization skills, and to teach the fundamentals of a computer aided design.  The students meet the instructor twice a week in the laboratory during this three‐credit‐hour semester course with each class lasting two hours. Students often struggle with visualization at the beginning of the semester;  If this lack of understanding continues the students will quickly fall behind and will have a difficult time transitioning to understanding the 3‐D computer aided parametric modeling tool.  To establish a positive collaborative study environment, motivate their critical thinking skills, and enhance the performance of the teamwork, name cards, hands‐on learning, think‐pair‐share, pop quizzes, open‐ended project etc. a series of active learning pedagogies were applied to the course. The benefits are: students get to know each other, work together, enhance their critical thinking, and get an opportunity to apply the skills and knowledge  they learned in the class to solve the real‐world problem. The effectiveness of the active learning was assessed by in class pop quizzes, student questionnaires, interview, project reports and oral presentation. The final project will be used to analyze students comprehensive understanding of the concepts presented for the semester. Students are expected to finish a written report, and presentation as a team. Peer evaluation and team evaluation forms will be given to the students to evaluate each other’s work. The final project rubric will be provided to evaluate and grade their final project.  The instructor will summarize and conclude student projects.    It has been found that by applying the active learning pedagogies, students become actively engaged, improve their critical thinking skills, exhibit a high level of satisfaction with the course, and become aware how important it is to apply their learning outcome to comprehensive real world project in terms of cognitive learning. 

Sun, L. (2014, June), Incorporating Active Learning into the Graphical Communications Course Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20620

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