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Tinkering to Introduce Technology, Developing an Instrument to Measure Student’s Play Preferences

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Innovative Curriculum in Engineering Technology

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1360.1 - 25.1360.9



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Paper Authors


Daphene C. Koch Ph.D. Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Daphene C. Koch is Assistant Professor in building construction management in the College of Technology. She has more than 10 years of industry experience, which she brings to teaching. Her areas of research include mechanical systems in buildings and STEM outreach, recruiting, and retention.

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Mary E. Johnson Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Mary E. Johnson is Associate Professor and Assistant Department Head for graduate studies and research in the Aviation Technology Department at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. Prior to joining Purdue in 2007, she was an Assistant Professor of industrial engineering at Texas A&M University, Commerce. From 1990 to 2004, she held positions of increasing responsibility at the Automation & Robotics Research Institute in Fort Worth, Texas, and left as Program Manager. She also has more than five years working in an aerospace company in addition to working on funded projects in aerospace throughout her career at ARRI. Her research interests are process modeling and improvement, emissions testing and analysis for alternative fuels, and increasing the interest of young people in careers in sTEm. She holds a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in industrial engineering from the University of Texas, Arlington.

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Abstract Title:Tinkering to introduce technology, developing an instrument to measure student’s playpreferencesThis purpose of this research is to determine if a student could be identified to prefer hands-onactivity and problem solving skills - “tinkering”, to other forms of play. Engineers, scientists andtechnologists may take objects apart and put them back together to learn about the object. Fromthere, they may try to invent a new object from something that they have experienced. Thepeople that are doing such actions are called “tinkerers” (Spinner, 2007). A vast amount ofresearch has been done on the effects of play on learning. Some believe that play is just exertingenergy; while others have shown that learning is occurring during play. Research hasinvestigated the pros and cons of the time spent in play versus structured guided activities. Thegoal of this project is to investigate the correlation of “tinkering” to interest in STEM areas ofeducation. A pilot project developed and tested an assessment tool that could be used todetermine a students’ preference. The project used a visual tool developed by the researchers.The tool was utilized in an international preschool on the XXXX campus. The preschool is acommon place to pilot research and allows ease of access and cooperation with teachers. Resultsof the study were compared to teacher knowledge of the students. The scientific design,methodology, and results are discussed in this paper. 

Koch, D. C., & Johnson, M. E. (2012, June), Tinkering to Introduce Technology, Developing an Instrument to Measure Student’s Play Preferences Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--22117

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