For years, computers have promised to revolutionize education. Educators crave and skeptics demand justification for the large outlay of resources required to introduce information technology into the curriculum. Engineering educators have drawn upon the work of education theorists, computer scientists and communication experts to explore the effectiveness of this promising technology in their curricula.

This paper analyzes three pairs of students using various solution techniques to solve a mechanical engineering design problem. We will focus on the use of a computer-based simulation tool and its effect on the students’ process of solving the problem. We will use two learning theories to explore the learning environment and draw conclusions about the effectiveness of the computer simulation for teaching engineering.

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