Reflection on System Dynamics Principles Improves Student Performance in Haptic Paddle Labs
Rose, Chad G.
McDonald, Craig G.
Clark, Janelle P.
O’Malley, Marcia K.
Contribution: Significant effort has been placed on the development of laboratory exercises for mechanical engineering curricula. Often, however, the exercises are not structured to encourage students to see the labs as a scientific process, instead of a checklist to be completed. Facilitating reflective observation and abstract conceptualization during the concrete experience (CE) of the lab improves student performance. Background: Extensive work has been put into the development of simple, low-cost educational tools to improve learning by supplementing curricula with hands-on experiences. Several devices, including haptic paddles, have been developed to combine dynamics and mechatronics content which culminate in rendering virtual environments. Despite demonstrated student interest in haptic devices and the foundational role of CE in learning, experimental comparisons of learning outcomes over a broad range of devices have had mixed results. Intended Outcomes: Device design can only address the experience portions of the learning cycle--effort put into encouraging and mediating a reflection phase will improve student performance. To test this hypothesis, the performance was compared of groups receiving the standard haptic paddle lab curriculum or a curriculum intended to facilitate reflection. Findings: Students receiving the reflective curriculum had statistically significant higher scores on lab report grades than those receiving the standard, non-reflective curriculum. The increased performance across multiple student GPA quartiles suggests that even modest curriculum changes designed to encourage reflection can improve student performance.