The Use of Engineering Sketching and Journaling to Foster Deep Understanding of Construction: an Exploratory Study

R Siew, L Bernold


In today’s teaching environment where students’ main focus is on getting a high mark for a class, deep understanding has taken a backseat. Being able to answer as many exam preparation questions as possible and fulfilling all the criteria on an assignment will guarantee success. “I deserve a higher mark because I worked hard in this class,” are the arguments one hears after the final marks are published. How about understanding the new material presented in the class? Engineering sketching and journaling have been hailed by experienced engineers as tools to enhance thinking and communication. The authors of the paper report about their utilization as teaching tools to foster deep understanding in a course on construction equipment and methods. While topics like equipments economics, power transmission and safety benefit from graphing in two-axis coordinate systems, understanding the best path of a backhoe bucket during a trenching operation is impossible to describe in words. Of course, understanding has several components: a) WHY do we use a backhoe excavator and not a trencher, b) WHAT are the possible three link motion paths and their related force vectors, c) HOW can the operator control the path of the bucket, and d) WHAT-IF there are utilities buried in the ground?

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