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Introduction of Whiteboards to Improve Sketching in Computer-Aided Design Courses

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Engineering Design Graphics Division Technical Session 1 - Current Issues

Tagged Division

Engineering Design Graphics

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Paper Authors


Christine E. King University of California, Irvine

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Dr. Christine King is an Assistant Teaching Professor of Biomedical Engineering at UC Irvine. She received her BS and MS from Manhattan College in Mechanical Engineering and her PhD in Biomedical Engineering from UC Irvine, where she developed brain-computer interface systems for neurorehabilitation. She was a post-doctorate in the Wireless Health Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a research manager in the Center for SMART Health, where she focused on wireless health monitoring for stroke and pediatric asthma. Her current research is on engineering education, specializing in pedagogy strategies to promote learning in design-build-test courses, including senior design, computer programming, and computer-aided-design courses.

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This evidence-based teaching practices paper presents the study of whiteboarding learning modules to improve sketching in computer-aided design (CAD) undergraduate courses. Sketching is very important in the design process, as it allows engineers to produce, evaluate, modify, and refine ideas rapidly in a physical medium. There has been significant research in creating computer interfaces that support sketching (e.g. use of Surface Pros and pens with SolidWorks or Wacom Smartpads), however, most designers choose not to use a computer for the first stage of design because current available interfaces do not support the informality of sketching. One potential low-cost pedagogical approach to learn sketching in the classroom that can support the necessary informality of the process seen in industry is to use individual whiteboards.

The authors present the use of whiteboards in a large lecture-based undergraduate engineering CAD course to support freehand sketching processes before implementing the resulting design in CAD software. Namely, ideation, modeling strategies, and problem solving learning modules were included in the course. To determine the efficacy of this approach, the following research questions were posed: 1) is it feasible to use individual whiteboards to teach freehand sketching in a large undergraduate CAD course? 2) do students and instructors find this approach acceptable? 3) do students find that the use of whiteboards during class improves their ability to sketch? The acceptability and effectiveness of the approach was tested using pre- and post-student surveys. Additionally, performance on exam questions related to modeling strategies was analyzed across students over time to determine whether the whiteboarding modules improved their ability to develop design strategies.

It was found that 78.2% of the 124 students who took the class completed both pre and post surveys. Of these students, 73% of respondents enjoyed the use of whiteboards to learn sketching, and 78% believed that the whiteboard activities helped them learn the course materials. Furthermore, 64.7% of the students found that the sketching learning modules improved their overall ability to sketch. The instructor and teaching assistant interviews also revealed that not only were the sketching learning modules feasible to perform in a large lecture-based course, but they also assisted in the introduction of new CAD concepts to demonstrate best practices for modeling strategies. Finally, the performance on exam questions related to developing modeling strategies demonstrated that students significantly improved in their sketching ability over time through consistent use of the whiteboarding learning modules (p = 0.0069). The positive findings on the feasibility and acceptability as well as effectiveness to improve students’ abilities to learn sketching both through qualitative and quantitative assessments demonstrates that this technique may become an important tool in undergraduate engineering design. Furthermore, this study fills the literature gap in the need for low-cost freehand sketching pedagogical approaches in CAD courses to improve the ability to learn engineering design processes.

King, C. E. (2019, June), Introduction of Whiteboards to Improve Sketching in Computer-Aided Design Courses Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33018

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