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Student Perspectives on the Use of iPads for Navigating Construction Drawings: A Case Study

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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

Construction Engineering Division Technical Session 6 - Technology & Simulation

Tagged Division

Construction Engineering

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Paper Authors


Tom Michael Leathem Auburn University

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Tom Leathem is an Assistant Professor in the McWhorter School of Building Science at Auburn University where he teaches courses in Estimating, Construction Documents, Scheduling, and Project Delivery. He has 11 years industry experience in commercial construction management, holds a Ph.D. in Education, an M.S. in Integrated Design & Construction, and a B.S. in Construction Management. His areas of research include construction education, assessment, accreditation, instructional technology, and active learning.

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Lauren W Redden Auburn University

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Lauren Redden holds a Masters degree in Building Construction from Auburn University. Her industry experience includes working in Pre-Construction Services as an Estimator, and working in various positions in Operations including Project Management and Quality Control/Assurance. She is currently a Tenure Track Assistant Professor with the McWhorter School of Building Science at Auburn University. Her research interests center around construction education, mobile technologies, service learning, and historically significant construction events throughout the world. She has published in several conferences proceedings. Contact Information: 118 M. Miller Gorrie Center, Auburn, AL 36849, USA. Phone: 334.844.5341. Email:

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Jeffrey Kim Auburn University Orcid 16x16


Wesley Collins Auburn University

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Wesley Collins is an assistant professor in the McWhorter School of Building Science at Auburn University. Dr. Collins completed his PhD in Construction Management at Arizona State University in 2015, and was awarded the Outstanding CII Graduate Research Assistant Award from the Construction Industry Institute for his doctoral research. Dr. Collins has over 15 years of experience as a construction professional and academic. He spent his professional career working as an estimator and project manager, managing a variety of projects across the United States. As an academic, he has published papers at national and international conferences, and in academic journals.

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Ishmael Boynton Preer

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As the construction industry begins to transition into a more technological driven industry with the implementation of new technology like BIM, laser scanning, drones, and virtual reality; mobile technology is quickly becoming a staple as well. The use of iPads – especially on construction sites – for document review and communication is becoming a replacement for what traditionally has been communicated through paper. Mobile technology allows for quick and easy access to the world of paperless documentation anywhere anytime. What’s more, it provides for more timely communication and collaboration between project participants. Despite the growing adoption in industry, implementation in the construction classroom is still evolving and related research limited. One area of particular interest to XXXX at University X is in reading and interpreting construction drawings. The ability to navigate construction drawings accurately and efficiently is a commonly cited weakness of construction management graduates. Traditionally, plan reading courses have been taught using hard-copy sets of drawings typical to what would be encountered in industry. In contrast, industry is moving away from paper-based and encouraging more electronic-based solutions. Recognizing this growing disconnect, the researchers began to identify courses to immerse mobile technology into the current curriculum. This paper will present a repeated measures case study exploring initial impacts on implementing the use of iPads in a plan reading course as compared to other modalities. The hypothesis guiding the study is that the integration of mobile devices will provide a modality more familiar to this generation of students that will create a heightened interest in the subject, thereby impacting performance. The study presented in this paper provides initial student perceptions and performance data related to the use of the devices to read and navigate drawings as compared to using paper drawings. Students were provided the devices loaded with Bluebeam® software as the engine for navigating the drawing set and tasked to perform a lab where they had to answer questions and complete problems from information found in the drawings. The NASA-TLX survey was used to collect perceptions on using the devices to execute an activity they have been used to doing with paper-based drawings. In addition to providing a detail of the methodology and results, the paper will also include identified challenges and proposed directions for future research.

Leathem, T. M., & Redden, L. W., & Kim, J., & Collins, W., & Preer, I. B. (2019, June), Student Perspectives on the Use of iPads for Navigating Construction Drawings: A Case Study Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33298

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