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Using Robotics for Teaching Critical Thinking, Problems Solving, and Self-Regulated Learning for Freshmen Engineering Students

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Innovative Methods to Teach Engineering to URMs

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1634.1 - 22.1634.9



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Paper Authors


Gordon W. Skelton Jackson State University

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Gordon W. Skelton,
Associate Professor,
Department of Computer Engineering,
Jackson State University,
JSU Box 17098,
Jackson, MS 39217-0198,
Office: 601-979-5016,
Fax: 601-979-5005,

Professional Preparation:
McMurry College Political Science B.A., 1974,
University of Southern Mississippi Political Science M.A., 1975,
University of Southern, Mississippi Political Science/Economics ABD, 1978,
University of Southern Mississippi Computer Science M.S., 1987
University of South Africa, Pretoria, SA Computer Science, Ph.D., 2001.

Jackson State University Associate Professor, January 2005 - present
Jackson State University Director, Center for Defense January 2005 - present,
Integrated Data (CDID)
Jackson State University Adjunct Professor, September – December 2005,
University of Mississippi Adjunct Professor 2000 - 2005,
Mississippi Valley Title Ins., Vice President for IS 1988 - 2004,
Belhaven College, Adjunct Professor, 1987 - 2001,
CENTEC Systems, Support Manager, 1987 - 1988,
Sec. of State, MS Internal Consultant, 1987 - 1987,
SCRI Public, Systems Manager, 1985 - 1986,
State of MS, Data Processing Manager, 1982 - 1984,
Ms. Statistical Analysis, Ctr. Director, 1980 - 1982,
State of MS, Systems Analyst, 1978 - 1980.
Research Interests:

Wireless sensor networking, intelligent decision-support systems, robotics, software engineering, software quality engineering/assurance, data fusion, engineering education, wireless application development, computer / information security, engineering education.

Current Research Activities:

Director, Center for Defense Integrated Data, Jackson State University, working on data fusion, intelligent decision-making, disaster response and emergency management decision support, communications interoperability, wireless sensor networks, and related concerns.

Major Funded Research:

ORNL/SERRI DHS, Disaster Response Intelligent System (DRIS) – Febuary 2007 – Present.
Project Manager, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, Vertical Integration for Missile Defense Surveillance Data, July 2004 – Present, Northern Gulf Institute, Data Sampling and Modeling of Contaminant Dispersant, August 2010 - Present.

Selected Publications / Presentations

Shuangzhang Tu, Gordon Skelton, Qing Pang, “A Compact High Order Space-Time Method for Conservation Laws”, Communications in Computational Physics, Accepted.

N. Meghanathan and G. W. Skelton, "Risk Notification Message Dissemination Protocol for Energy Efficient Broadcast in Vehicular Ad hoc Networks," IAENG International Journal of Computer Science, vol. 37, no. 1, pp. 1 - 10, March 2010.

Wei Zheng, Jianjun Yin and Gordon Skelton, “Synergize Creativity, Self-regulated Learning, and Motivation through Cyberinfrastructure-enabled Problem/Project-based Learning”, American Education Science Review, vol. 1, no. 1, February, 2010

Wei Zheng, Jianjun Ying, Gordon Skelton, Huiru Shih, Tzusheng Pei and Evelyn Leggette, “Strategies in Science and Engineering Studies”, Journal of Information Systems Technology and Planning, vol. 2, issue 3, winter 2009.

N. Meghanathan, S. Sharma and G. W. Skelton, “Use of Mobile Sinks to Disseminate Data in Wireless Sensor Networks,” International Journal of Information Processing, vol. 2, no. 2, April/ May 2008.

Marc Bitner, Gordon Skelton, “Low Cost, Highly Effective Parallel Computing Achieved Through a Beowulf Cluster”, Biomedical sciences instrumentation, 2003 - 2008.
G. Skelton and A. Holton, II, “Survivability in Wireless Sensor Networks”, MSCI 2006, Published Proceedings of the 10th World Multi-Conference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics, Orlando, Florida, July 2006.
G. Skelton, “Introducing Software Engineering to Computer Engineering Students,” IEEE SoutheastCon 2006, April 2006.
G. Skelton, “Robotics, Game Programming: Expanding Engineering and Computer Science at the High School Level,” 2006 Enhancing Education Through Technology, Tunica, MS, March 2006.
L. Chen and G. W. Skelton, Mobile Commerce Application Development, CyberTech Publishing, Hershey, PA, 2005.
G. W. Skelton, Wireless Application Development, Course Technologies, Boston, MA, 2003.
G. W. Skelton, A. L. Steenkamp, C. D. Burge, “Utilizing UML Diagrams for Integration Testing of Object-Oriented Software”, Software Quality Professional, Vol. 2, No. 3, June 2000.
G. W. Skelton, “Integrating total quality management with software engineering education”, ACM SIGCSE Bulletin, June 1993.
G. W. Skelton, N. M. Paz, and A. Kulkarni, “Programming for the Novice Through Visualization”, Published Proceedings of the Annual International Ergonomics and Safety Conference, Louisville, Kentucky, June 1986.
Professional Organizations / Certifications
Member, IEEE, IEEE Computer Society, ASEE, ACM, ASQ
IEEE Certified Software Development Professional.

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Qing Pang Jackson State University

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Ms. Qing Pang is Research Associate in the Department of Computer Engineering, School of Engineering, College of Science, Engineering & Technology, Jackson State University. She earned her M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology in 2000. She worked for several private companies before joining Jackson State University in 2007. Her current research interests are robotics, wireless sensor networks, signal processing, embedded software, and engineering education.

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Wei Zheng Jackson State University

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Dr. Wei Zheng is an Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering at Jackson State University (JSU). He received his Ph.D. degree in Civil Engineering from University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2001 and has over 10-year industrial experience. Since becoming a faculty member at JSU in 2005, he has made continuous efforts to integrate emerging technologies and cognitive skill development into engineering curriculum. He serves as a freshmen advisor for the First Year Experience Program at JSU and is the Principle Investigator for ongoing CCLI-Phase I Project funded by NSF. He has led the new course module development for CCLI-Phase I project and integrated its implementation in his course at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at JSU.

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HuiRu Shih Jackson State University

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Dr. HuiRu (H.R.) Shih is a Professor of Technology at Jackson State University. He received his Ph.D. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Missouri. Dr. Shih is a registered professional engineer and a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).

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Tzusheng Pei Jackson State University

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Using Robotics for Teaching Critical Thinking, Problems Solving and Self- Regulated Learning for Freshmen Engineering Students at an HBCUIncoming freshmen engineering students at an HBCU graduated from a wide variety ofhigh schools which do not equally prepare these students for the rigors of an engineeringcourse of study. One of the required courses titled "University Success" covers a widevariety of topics ranging from university rules and regulations to study techniques andexam preparation. Within the framework of this course topics related to critical thinkingand problem solving are addressed. The work detailed in this paper, sponsored by NSF,focuses on the use of robotics to introduce freshmen to engineering principles, evaluatetheir problem solving skills and expand their knowledge and use of self-regulatedlearning concepts / techniques in a concerted effort to improve retention and graduationrates in engineering at an HBCU.Self-regulated learning is an important but difficult concept to present to students. Withself-regulated learning, students learn to evaluate their study and learning strategies andto evaluate their own critical thinking and problem solving skills and strategies. Theresearch presented in this paper examines the use of robotics as a targeted topic for thestudents to learn how to apply self-regulated concepts. In this laboratory setting thestudents exercise their problem solving skills and develop an understanding of how theyare able to adjust / learn from both successes and failures. From this experience thestudents are able to gain a better understanding of how self-regulated learning is relatedto academic success. The individual problems used in this project are presented, alongwith detailed analysis of the effectiveness of applying such methods for preparingfreshmen for success in undergraduate engineering.

Skelton, G. W., & Pang, Q., & Zheng, W., & Shih, H., & Pei, T. (2011, June), Using Robotics for Teaching Critical Thinking, Problems Solving, and Self-Regulated Learning for Freshmen Engineering Students Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18885

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