June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
15.781.1 - 15.781.13
Integration of Graphical Programming into a First-Year Engineering Course
Many first-year engineering curricula either include a course on computing or integrate computing within one of the introductory courses. There is significant evidence that students in these introductory programming courses have difficulty both learning the concepts as well as applying those concepts in the writing of code. This is especially prominent among engineering students. One reason for this discrepancy between the learning outcomes desired by instructors and student performance is that the instructional methods used and the very nature of the material does not match well with the learning styles of most engineering students. One promising avenue to explore in an attempt to address this issue is the use of graphical programming environments. A hypothesis is that using environments such as these could help students who tend to learn better from visual presentations, because the graphical nature of the program will help to make the structures easier to comprehend. The potential to enhance first- year student learning motivated a pilot approach at a large university’s introductory engineering class to use graphical programming as the dominant computer tool within the class. Design was taught through the use of a graphical programming language that culminated in a service- learning project in which students developed computer programs designed to excite middle school students about math and science. This paper will discuss the curricular structure, the implementation of the graphical programming language, examples from the class and initial assessments from the experience.
Computers are an integral part of the engineering landscape. They are used to model potential solutions, collect and analyze data, and create new parts through computer aided design packages and computer controlled machinery. In addition, they are starting to be increasingly incorporated into the products of design, from sneakers that track the distance traveled to smart building materials that can report on the stresses and strains they are experiencing. Computing skills have been identified as one of the attributes that future engineers will be required to possess . Due to this increasing prevalence of computing technologies in both the design and implementation of engineering solutions, many first-year engineering curricula include either a course devoted entirely to computing concepts, or incorporate those concepts into other introductory courses.
There is significant evidence that students in introductory programming courses have difficulty both learning the concepts inherent in the field or computer science as well as applying those concepts in the writing of code [2, 3]. This is also true of engineering students. One reason for this discrepancy between the learning outcomes desired by instructors and student performance is that the instructional methods used as well as the very nature of the material do not match well with the learning styles of most engineering students.
Bucks, G., & Oakes, W. (2010, June), Integration Of Graphical Programming Into A First Year Engineering Course Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. https://peer.asee.org/16522
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