This research paper describes the process of developing a concept inventory for engineering graphics. Historically, many of the pedagogical methods in core engineering topics such as statics or circuits have largely remained constant. This is not the case when considering the subject of engineering graphics. The way graphics instruction is currently delivered relies heavily on technology, and the technology that was current at a student’s enrollment in an engineering graphics course may very well be outdated by the time they graduate. Regardless of the progression and methodology of instruction, there seems to be an expectation of understanding basic graphical concepts at the conclusion of the course of study. However, there is variance in the academic community regarding what constitutes basic graphics concepts that students should master and how they might be validly and reliably measured.
Concept inventories aim to measure the understandings and misconceptions of a set of ideas related to a subject. The final result of this project will be an instrument used to measure students’ conceptual knowledge of basic engineering graphics. Concepts that were previously identified as important by a Delphi study involving engineering graphics professionals are the foundation for item development. Items are being developed based on these concepts and categorized for revision. Reviewing for content validity will ensure the appropriate constructs of each important concept that are being measured. Those items that demonstrate the ability to accurately measure the established constructs will continue to be included for review. Items will be individually analyzed for validity and reliability before being included in a more comprehensive instrument. As items are refined and reach statistically acceptable levels, an inclusive instrument will be compiled for evaluation. Established methods of assessing educational instruments have been selected for use, including Item Response Theory and Classical Test Theory.
One area of important concepts that was identified through our Delphi process could be characterized as “modern” fundamental concepts, i.e., those related to computer-aided design, and more specifically to concepts in constraint-based modeling. Through several iterations, the authors have attempted to develop CAD-related items for the Concept Inventory with as yet unsatisfactory results. The development team has discussed many options and have examined all data available from the Delphi study, including importance and relative difficulty, for CAD concepts and there is little consensus regarding the content of the items or even the need for the items. This work in progress paper will outline our attempts thus far in developing CAD-related items and will engage participants in an interactive discussion regarding next steps. Since our ultimate aim is to develop a Concept Inventory that is valued and used within the graphics community, we believe that input from the community, through this interactive presentation, will enable us to develop an instrument that is responsive to the needs of educators at multiple educational levels.
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