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Measurement Of Hands On Ability

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Conference

2010 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Pedagogical Innovations in Laboratory Education

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count

14

Page Numbers

15.859.1 - 15.859.14

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/16667

Download Count

107

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Paper Authors

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Anna Pereira Michigan Technological University

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Anna Pereira is a graduate student in mechanical engineering. Her research interests include human factors and engineering education.

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Michele Miller Michigan Technological University

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Dr. Michele Miller is an Associate Professor in mechanical engineering. She teaches classes on
manufacturing and controls and does disciplinary research on microelectromechanical systems and precision machining. Her educational research interests include problem solving in the lab and informal engineering education.

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biography

Margot Hutchins Michigan Technological Universtiy

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Margot Hutchins is a Ph.D. candidate in Mechanical Engineering and a Graduate Scholar of the Sustainable Futures Institute. The primary objective of her research is to develop a model that addresses the relationship between decision alternatives and sustainability, especially the societal dimension. Other research interests include life cycle assessment, decision making, and engineering education.

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William Helton Michigan Technological University

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Dr. William Helton is an Associate Professor in cognitive and learning sciences. He teaches
classes in human factors and educational psychology and does disciplinary research on attention, expertise, and stress. His educational research interests include cognitive load theory, expertise development, and psychometrics.

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Chris VanArsdale Michigan Technological University

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Christopher Van Arsdale is a graduate student in mining engineering. His interests include power systems, controls, and mining.

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Leonard Bohmann Michigan Technological University

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Dr. Leonard Bohmann is a faculty member in electrical engineering and presently serves as the
Associate Dean of Engineering. His disciplinary research interests are in expanding the use of
renewable energy in electric power systems. He has research interests in gender differences and
how they relate to engineering education as well as methods to increase the participation of
women in engineering.

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Abstract
NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Measurement of Hands-On Ability Introduction

“Practical ingenuity,” according the National Academy of Engineering, is a necessary attribute for the engineer of 20201. Hands-on ability is considered an important characteristic of practical ingenuity2. Two of the ABET criteria address hands-on skills: ability to design and conduct experiments and interpret data (criteria b); and ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice (criteria k)3. Employers value hands-on ability and routinely ask recruits about hands-on experiences outside of classes4. A “tinkering deficit” has also been identified that puts females at a disadvantage in the workplace5.

Hands-on ability is a critical component of a successful engineer, but can it be measured? A measure could be useful in several ways. As an assessment measure, it would provide the feedback necessary to improve the teaching of hands-on ability. By observing how students with high and low hands-on ability carry out hands-on tasks, we can identify differences in their strategies, developing a list of attributes that help define hands-on ability. By surveying students of high and low hands-on ability about their prior experiences, we can learn where hands-on ability comes from. By surveying students of varying hands-on ability about their attitude toward engineering, we can learn how hands-on ability and students’ views on engineering are related.

This paper describes our efforts to measure hands-on ability and to use that measure to explore relationships with prior experiences and student attitudes and emotions.

Data Collection

We attempted to devise a hands-on test that measures hands-on ability. Initially, we recruited eight mechanical engineering students and eight electrical engineering students for a pilot study. All students were sophomore level engineers at our institution. We devised both “easy” and “hard” hands-on tasks for the mechanical and electrical engineering students. For the mechanical engineering students, the “hard” task involved the measurement of pressure on a pipe rig used in a fluids lab course, and the “easy” task involved the centering of a cylindrical part on a roundness tester. For the electrical engineers, the “hard” task involved troubleshooting a circuit that was malfunctioning. The “easy” task asked the students to construct a circuit to illuminate a light emitting diode given a power supply and several components. Four students were assigned to each task, with each student only performing one task. Students were videotaped while doing the tasks, and two raters coded each video. The students were given documentation stating a goal of the task and basic instructions to complete the task. Each student performed the task individually on separate occasions. There was a single lab assistant present for each task. One lab instructor supervised all mechanical engineering tasks and another supervised all electrical engineering tasks. For the mechanical engineering task, the lab instructor was the female and for the electrical engineering task the instructor was male. The lab instructor was intentionally preoccupied with work, but stated they were available for questions. Typically, the lab assistant would only become involved if the student asked a question.

Pereira, A., & Miller, M., & Hutchins, M., & Helton, W., & VanArsdale, C., & Bohmann, L. (2010, June), Measurement Of Hands On Ability Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. https://peer.asee.org/16667

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