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Traditional instructional methods present many obstacles to effective teaching and learning in engineering and computer science courses. These include a reliance on text-based or static mediums to convey equation- and graphics-heavy concepts, a disconnect between theoretical lecture presentations and applied laboratory or homework exercises, and a difficulty in promoting collaborative activities that more accurately reflect an engineering approach to problem solving. Additionally, technical courses can suffer, like any other course, when students are not actively engaged in the learning and when instructors cannot gauge student understanding. This project has explored the utility of Tablet PCs for overcoming these challenges within a sample of courses in engineering and computer science. There were three primary questions: which knowledge domains benefit from the use of Tablet PCs; whether observed benefits are derived from Tablet PC-specific activities; and what problems limit the effectiveness of Tablet PCs in educational settings? The evaluation of assessment data using regression approaches demonstrated that Tablet-PC-specific activities had a consistent, meaningful, and positive impact upon engineering and computer science courses.
Date of Conference: 10-13 Oct. 2007