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The Napkin Sketch Pilot Study: A Minute-paper Reflection in Pictorial Form

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Conference

2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Approaches to Assessment and Student Reflection

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count

24

DOI

10.18260/1-2--35350

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/35350

Download Count

179

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Paper Authors

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Jes Barron U.S. Military Academy

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Jes Barron is an Instructor in the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering at the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from West Point (2009), a Master of Business Administration from Oklahoma State University (2015), and a Master of Science degree in Underground Construction and Tunnel Engineering from Colorado School of Mines (2018). He is a licensed professional engineer in the state of Texas. His research interests include underground construction, tunnel engineering, engineering mechanics, engineering education, productivity, and creativity.

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Brad C. McCoy U.S. Military Academy

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Brad C. McCoy is a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army, and currently an Asst. Professor in the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering and the Deputy Director of the Center for Innovation and Engineering at the U.S. Military Academy (USMA). He holds a BS degree in civil engineering from USMA (2001), and MS and PhD degrees in civil engineering from North Carolina State University (2011 and 2019). Brad is a licensed Professional Engineer (Missouri). His research interests include sustainable infrastructure development, composite materials in construction, and engineering education.

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Jakob C. Bruhl U.S. Military Academy Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-1645-4520

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Lieutenant Colonel Jakob Bruhl is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering at the United States Military Academy, West Point, NY. He received his B.S. from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, M.S. Degrees from the University of Missouri at Rolla and the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign, and Ph.D. from Purdue University. He is a registered Professional Engineer in Missouri. His research interests include resilient infrastructure, protective structures, and engineering education.

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John J. Case U.S. Military Academy

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JOHN CASE is a U.S. Army Officer in his 11th year of active duty service and is an instructor in the Department of Systems Engineering at the United States Military Academy. He holds master’s degrees in Operations Research from Virginia Tech and Engineering Management from the Missouri University of Science and Technology. He is in the Operations Research functional area of the Army and has research interests in operations research, data analytics, and education. He is certified in project management (PMP) by PMI.

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John Andrew Kearby U.S. Military Academy

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MAJ John Kearby serves in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from West Point, a Master of Science in Civil Engineering from Missouri University of Science and Technology, and a Master of Science in Operations Research from North Carolina State University. He is a licensed Professional Engineer in the state of Missouri and his research interested include optimized network flow modeling,

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Abstract

This paper presents an evidence-based practice pilot study of the potential cognitive benefits of requiring students to create sketches that summarize course material in ways different than presented in class. This exercise is termed a “napkin sketch” to articulate to students the benefits of simple sketches to communicate ideas – as is often done by engineers in practice. The purpose of the study was to investigate how this napkin sketch activity addresses three concerns of engineering educators: creativity, visualization and communication, and knowledge retention. Specific objectives of the study were to generate conclusions regarding the activity’s ability to (1) provide an outlet for, and a means of encouraging creativity, (2) provide an opportunity for students to visualize and communicate what they have learned through drawings rather than equations or writing, and (3) encourage knowledge retention by providing a mechanism for students to think about and describe concepts learned in the classroom differently than for other requirements. The scope of this paper includes the generation, implementation, and analysis of the napkin sketch activity in three civil engineering courses across eight different class sections in the spring and fall of 2019 at the U.S. Military Academy, a small, public, undergraduate-only four-year college in the northeast United States. The motivation for the study stems from evidence-based practices of re-representation from educational psychology, minute papers from educational research, the growing shift to computer-aided design and away from hand drawing, and recent research suggesting our engineering programs may be degrading student creativity. A between-subjects quasi-experimental setup examined four activity implementations and 249 sketches were collected. Sketch creativity was assessed by three instructors using a creativity rubric adapted from literature. The sketch creativity scores, along with individual student academic and course performance data, were analyzed using standard least squares regression and machine learning techniques to investigate the effect of sketching on creativity and understanding of course material. An anonymous and optional survey was also provided to a total of 56 students, with 21 students responding (37.5%). The following key conclusions can be drawn from the study: (1) the activity does encourage students to think about the material differently, and provides a means for creative students to express lesson content creatively; however, assessment bias, selection bias, and the inherent difficulty in assessing creativity does not allow us to draw conclusions about the creativity of engineering students in any absolute sense from the collected data; (2) incorporating an emphasis on freehand sketching into the engineering curriculum could have positive effects toward developing creativity and pictorial communication skills; (3) there was evidence in the data suggesting that the sample populations examined in the study are experiencing degradation in creativity between sophomore and senior level coursework, which was an idea expressed in the literature; (4) the sketch creativity scores are higher when it is conducted after blocks of material and performed outside of class.

Barron, J., & McCoy, B. C., & Bruhl, J. C., & Case, J. J., & Kearby, J. A. (2020, June), The Napkin Sketch Pilot Study: A Minute-paper Reflection in Pictorial Form Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35350

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