|M.Sc Student||Walter Yuval|
|Subject||Learning Digital Design and Production through Cross-Age|
|Department||Department of Education in Science and Technology||Supervisor||Professor Igor Verner|
Studies of education in engineering design and digital production are based on learning theories that see the student as an active learner who constructs knowledge, experimenting in a technological environment, develops reflections and thus proceeds to theoretical learning and practical application of the acquired knowledge.
This study seeks to determine strategies and characteristics of a cross-age guidance approach applied to educating school students in digital design and production in the framework of the mechanical engineering discipline.
The study was conducted in two schools and involved 12th grade students as mentors (N=9) and 9th- with 11th- graders as mentees (N=26). The topics studied in the cross-age instruction process were: engineering drawing, computer-aided drawing, computer-aided design (CAD), 3D printing, preparation and manufacturing processes. The research goal was to examine ways to implement a cross-age approach in digital design and production studies in secondary schools.
The research questions were:
1. What are the environmental characteristics of digital design and production studies that support cross-age instruction?
2. What are the indications for the learning of digital design and production among students involved as mentors and guided students in a cross-age mentoring approach?
In the study we combined the qualitative grounded theory approach, used to determine characteristics of the cross-age mentoring, with quantitative analysis, which enabled to evaluate learning outcomes for student mentors and mentees.
The following characteristics of cross-age high school mentoring in digital design and production emerge from our research findings:
- The use of physical objects as a physical model
allows creating a real illustration of projections in
three-dimensional space and serving as an important factor in
understanding the concepts, also raising interest and motivation among the mentors
who created 3D-printed models for the
- Instruction in small groups provided a good platform for asking questions and mutual help between the guided students.
- Guidance in a well-known engineering-technological environment made mentors and mentees feel comfortable. All the aids and systems that were used and will be used later are there, creating an effect of expectation and motivation for learning.
The answer to the second research question is given in several indications that emerge from the research findings:
- Mentors watching the guided students groups perform assignments, created a high-impact recursive feedback effect, leading to high motivation among the guided students.
- Based on reports, reflections and observations, it can be clearly seen that the mentors go through the process of learning during the course of instruction they received prior to the beginning of the guiding.
- The learning products that were produced by the mentees independently, such as task pages, computer drawings, digital design and final products, indicates on acquirement of knowledge in design and manufacturing technologies.
Results of our study can be used in teacher training to apply the cross-age guidance approach. Based on the positive results of our case study, we recommend further research of the characteristics of cross-age mentoring in high school technology education.