Investigating the affordances of a CAD enabled learning environment for promoting integrated STEM learning
Chandan Dasgupta, Alejandra J. Magana, Camilo Vieira, Purdue University, United States
Computers & Education Volume 129, Number 1, ISSN 0360-1315 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd
There has been an increased emphasis on designing integrated STEM learning environments for K-12 students that facilitate seamless learning of disciplinary concepts infused with science inquiry, engineering design, mathematical reasoning, and technological skills. However, there is limited prior research investigating how to facilitate such integrated STEM learning in formal classrooms that go beyond a simple combination of the different subject areas and instead enable teaching and learning of disciplinary concepts infused with scientific inquiry, engineering design, mathematical reasoning, and 21st century technological skills. In this paper, we investigate the affordances of using an educational Computer Aided Design tool, Energy 3D, and corresponding curricular materials to support such integrated STEM learning anchored in the engineering design process. We present an exploratory case study that was conducted in a middle school in the US, where a project-based learning approach was followed and students were asked to design a low-cost energy-efficient home within a given budget using the Energy3D CAD tool. Findings indicate that students learned to engage in the design process and demonstrated practices of idea fluency and systematic experimentation; practices usually representative of informed designers. During the design process while analyzing the problem space, generating ideas, and evaluating solutions, they developed better understanding of the relationships between variables and underlying science concepts, used various mathematical analysis tools and graphical representations embedded in the available technology to inform their engineering design decisions. The learning environment using Energy3D afforded formative feedback to help students understand relationship between variables, provided converging evidences using multiple analytical tools, and enabled visual problem decomposition using suboptimal model to engage students in integrated STEM learning. This study provides a platform for future research investigating the effectiveness of educational CAD tools and curricular scaffolds designed specifically for K-12 students for supporting integrated STEM learning anchored in the design process.
Dasgupta, C., Magana, A.J. & Vieira, C. (2019). Investigating the affordances of a CAD enabled learning environment for promoting integrated STEM learning. Computers & Education, 129(1), 122-142. Elsevier Ltd.