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CA2VES Research Initiatives

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As part of our mission to advance technician education, CA2VES strives to embed evidence based research into our core activities. Two current research efforts include the deployment of a survey on the information seeking behaviors of technical college students and a pilot study investigating the effects of digital learning integrated with visualization tools on learning outcomes. The details of both are outlined below.

Survey of Technical College Students
As part of an effort to better understand internet use among technical college students, a survey instrument was deployed at four two-year technical and community colleges in South Carolina: Florence-Darlington Technical College, Greenville Technical College, Spartanburg Community College, and Trident Technical College. The target population for this survey was students enrolled in Aircraft Maintenance Technology, Avionics Maintenance Technology and Automotive Technology. The primary aim of the survey was to understand the online information- seeking behaviors of two-year technical college students for educational materials specific to the aviation, automotive, and manufacturing industries, as well as their perception of the value of the information they collected. In addition, the survey also pursued information about student’s usage of mobile devices (i.e., smart phones and tablets), social media, blogs, and video games. The results suggest that 65.2% of the respondents are using the Internet to gain access to information. Interestingly, among the Internet adopters, students in the age group of 35-49 had a higher level of frustration when compared to other age groups. On the contrary, students in the age group of 18-34 experienced a higher level of effort when looking for correct educational information on Internet. 37.7% of the total respondents were active video game players. While 31.2% of the respondents reported to have played PC-based games and 69% of the students reported to have played games on a video-game consoles. Through additional NSF ATE Center and technical college partners, CA2VES hopes to deploy the survey to a larger population of students. The results of the initial survey will be presented at the 120th American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Annual Conference and Exposition to be held in Atlanta, GA on June 23-26, 2013.

Investigating the Effects of Digital Learning
A pilot study on the effects of digital learning integrated with visualization tools on learning outcomes is scheduled to be conducted in partnership with Greenville Technical College. Two groups of technical college students enrolled in technology programs will be provided with instruction on basic measuring instruments. One group will be provided with instruction currently given at the technical college. The second group will be provided with instruction through CA2VES developed digital learning integrated with visualization tools. The study will evaluate the role of digital learning integrated with visualization tools, the ease of use of digital learning, the technology acceptance, the perception of learning, and evaluate the effect of digital learning on outcomes on individual differences including gender, age, background, and learning styles. The results of this pilot study will be used to inform continuous improvements to the CA2VES model and its resources. The results of this pilot study will be presented at the 2013 High Impact Technology Exchange Conference (HI-TEC) to be held in Austin, TX on July 21-24.

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