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Preferential Learning of Students in a Post-Secondary Introductory Engineering Graphics Course: A Preliminary Study Focused on Students At-Risk

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Learning styles affect on students in graphic and design courses

Tagged Division

Engineering Design Graphics

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.975.1 - 23.975.9



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Paper Authors


Jeremy V Ernst Virginia Tech

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Dr. Jeremy V. Ernst is an assistant professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning at Virginia Tech. He currently teaches graduate courses in STEM education foundations and contemporary issues in Integrative STEM Education. Dr. Ernst specializes in research focused on dynamic intervention means for STEM education students categorized as at-risk of dropping out of school. He also has curriculum research and development experiences in technology, engineering, and design education.

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Aaron C. Clark North Carolina State University

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Dr. Aaron C. Clark is a professor of technology, design, and engineering education, director of Graduate Programs, and associate department chair at North Carolina State University. Dr. Clark has worked in both industry and education, including college administration at various levels. His teaching specialties are in visual theory, 3-D modeling, technical animation, and STEM-based pedagogy. Research areas include graphics education, game art and design, and scientific/technical visualization.

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Preferential Learning of Students in a Post-Secondary IntroductoryEngineering Graphics Course: A Preliminary Study Focused on Students At- RiskThis study follows a thematic trend in research that gauges engineering graphics studentpreferences, abilities, and consequent approaches and curricular designs for instructors.Students’ backgrounds, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors are considered to directly affect learningin the classroom; therefore research is needed as to how students learn in the content that weteach. This study used the VARK Questionnaire to identify the preferred learning approaches ofstudents in an introductory engineering graphics class at a major university. The questionnaireindicates whether a person prefers one or multi-modal learning methods that include (V)visual,(A)aural, (R)read/write, and (K)kinesthetic. A demographic instrument was employed to gatherdata that assisted in classifying students as being at-risk of leaving college or not at-risk. Theresearchers used the Fisher exact test to analyze the collected data. The Fisher exact test is mostcommonly applied to evaluation of a hypothesis with data framed in a 2x2 contingency tablewhere chi-square assumptions are not individually met (Sheskin, 2007). The null hypotheses areevaluated based on the probability of determining a collection of “observed frequencies evenmore extreme” than the set summarized in the contingency tables (Sheskin, 2007 p.633).Students that took the VARK Questionnaire (n=132) had an overall high preference ofkinesthetic learning at 27.4% indicating this is how they prefer to learn, with visual (16.9%)being the least preferred learner preference. Forty-two of the participants were classified as at-risk and no significant difference was identified within each learner preference between at-riskand not at-risk groups. The findings from this preliminary study support previous researchconducted in engineering design graphics courses at the high school level (Ernst, 2011). A majorrecommendation is to fully incorporate differentiated instructional methods and applications topromote learning in engineering graphics at the post-secondary level, not solely virtual modelingwhen teaching students how to visualize technical information.

Ernst, J. V., & Clark, A. C. (2013, June), Preferential Learning of Students in a Post-Secondary Introductory Engineering Graphics Course: A Preliminary Study Focused on Students At-Risk Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22360

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