Title: Affordances Of Mobile Technology To Facilitate Learning In Undergraduate Thermal-Fluid Science
Program: Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering
Advisor: Dr. Krishna Pakala, Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering
Committee Members: Dr. Devshikha Bose, Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering; Dr. Erin Mannen, Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering; and Dr. Diana Bairaktarova, Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering
In recent years, the pandemic has affected learning at all levels, in particular higher education, where higher levels of independence and self-motivation are required during distance learning. In engineering in particular, distance learning adds another degree of difficulty to an already complex field. Comprehension in engineering requires the repeated use of diagrams, high-level charts, and practice problems. Mobile devices, combined with a technology-enhanced curriculum, provide an excellent platform for learning in engineering as it allows for clear illustration and the transfer of complex ideas at any time and place. In alignment with the social-constructivist framework, these facets of mobile technology provide additional avenues for student engagement and the extension of learning goals. This study utilized the Triple E Framework and a mixed methods approach to investigate the impact of mobile devices on engineering students’ learning in a thermal-fluids course. The overall aim: to measure how mobile technology, combined with a technology-enhanced curriculum, impacts engineering students’ engagement, enhancement, and extension of learning. Results reveal that students perceived increased levels of engagement when utilizing mobile devices while learning. However, teaching methods were identified to be the key factor leading to engagement. Though a clear statistical difference between students who did and did not utilize mobile devices was not apparent, students with university loaned tablets (iPads) saw a larger increase in learning than students without. Conclusions report that having a single type of device in the classroom supports ways of learning that would not otherwise be present. This supports the social constructivist framework, in demonstrating how learning is a process situated within a social context that is influenced by social interaction.