Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Learning at Elk Grove: Intro to Engineering

By Patrick McGing, Merlyn Manoj, Kaelyn Rittle, and Mark Heintz


I was fortunate to visit Pat McGing's Intro to Engineering course a few weeks ago.  I asked him and a few of his students to document the learning that took place that lesson and what they hoped to learn in future ones.  From my outsider's perspective, there was a high level of student agency present.  The students were focused and working with purpose.  They rarely deviated from the task at hand and that was evident by the amount of time student spent on the task at hand.  

More importantly, the teacher and the students were all learners.  The teacher was learning right alongside the students.  Because the student projects were so different, it was impossible for the teacher to know the answers to all of their questions.  Rather than giving the students the answers or saying he did not know it, he worked with the students to come up with the solutions.  The equity in the partnership between students and the teachers reminds me that everyone is a learner and together we grow so much more than by ourselves.  Watch the short clip of student focus and the partnership between student and teacher.  Aftwerwards, be sure to read the reflections that follow.  


Teacher Perspective: Patrick McGing

What did learning look like in the lesson?

Learning looked like collaboration.

Students in this Introduction to Engineering Design section are at many different points in a project. Many students were working with their peers to solve problems, demonstrate, or just assist in a minor way to help a peer along. I could look around the classroom and see multiple students leaning over to their neighbor or getting out of their seat to assist a classmate. Therefore, the teaching did not come from me but from students peers.

  • Learning looked like students building skills in smaller areas of Autodesk Inventor with 3D modeling or 3D assemblies.
  • Learning looked like students building communication skills.
  • Learning looked like students building time management skills.
  • Learning looked like students recalling previous knowledge to aide in their current project.




What do you hope to do for the next time?

I hope for students to have a better grasp and understanding of assembling parts in Autodesk Inventor. Many of the students helping each other during the lesson were helping students assemble parts. Something I have tried in one of my other courses is having students develop a step by step “protocol” for troubleshooting specific problems. This helped students actually attempt troubleshooting a problem with already brainstormed solutions and gave them better success in solving a problem on their own. I would like to try this in my introductory course so that students could better persevere through problems.


Student: Merlyn Manoj

What did you learn this lesson?

During this project, I learned how to use my manage my time since we worked on our project independently. It was a bit hard though because if you were falling behind you would have to go to the lab outside of class to catch up with your peers. This project also gave me a lot of freedom since we had to create our own parts, and even though it was frustrating at times because you can’t just follow a plan right in front of you when things are going wrong, it was fun having that creative aspect in our project.

What do you hope to learn for the next time?

I want to learn more about Inventor rather than the basics of it. I think learning how to figure out a solution to a problem rather than just asking a friend or a teacher right away would be a great skill to have.


Student: Kaelyn Rittle 

What did you learn this lesson?

I’m not sure I can say I learned anything new from this unit because most of what we did included skills I learned in the past. However, this unit granted a lot of freedom as to what we were allowed to create, and I would say the design process was the most challenging for me. My project is slightly different in that I have two cranks whereas pretty much everyone else has only one which makes spacing everything just a little harder. I have 5 parts - three in the back and two in the front and measuring everything out so that they wouldn’t hit each other involved a lot of trial and error. This was difficult because whenever I’ve worked on Inventor in the past, I was either following a sheet with the dimensions given to me or I was physically measuring parts as I went along.

What do you hope to learn for the next time?

I think it would be fun to work with other features on Inventor that I haven’t used before. As far as I know, I’ve only used the very basics of it, and maybe exploring it more will help me further understand the program in case I were to ever use it in the future.

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