Abdulrasool, Salah Mahdi, Mishra, Rakesh, Fieldhouse, John D. and Ward, Steve (2006) Effectiveness of Parallel and Serial Integration of Teaching Resources in Laboratory Teaching in Engineering Education. International Journal of Learning, 13 (6). pp. 55-62. ISSN 1447-9494

Recent advances in the development of 'electronic teaching support systems' make it more attractive to embrace such emerging technology in the conventional teaching programme. Mechanical Engineering subject areas require extensive laboratory activities where teaching and the resources available need to be used optimally to produce engineers with the right skills and knowledge. It is for this reason that attempts are being made throughout the World to include electronic support into the laboratory environment to make learning more effective. This paper undertakes a study to compare two different methods of integrating electronic resources into the conventional laboratory teaching in engineering education and describes the learning experience of two groups of students using each system. Two groups of students were carefully selected to ensure they had the same learning abilities (similar average marks and standard deviations) and each was asked to learn an engraving operation using a CNC machine. The resources available were a facilitator, computer simulation software and the CNC machine. Each group was asked to approach the learning tasks differently. The first group of students (Group 1) were asked to learn the engraving operation using a computer simulation of the engraving operation and were encouraged to carry out actual exercise on a CNC machine in parallel with the simulation. The role of the facilitator was to explain various operations on the simulation software as well as help students on actual machines. The second group of students (Group 2) were exposed to the simulation in a classroom environment which was followed by the entire procedure being explained by the facilitator on a CNC machine within the laboratory environment. The learning experience in this case was sequential in that the learning resources were used in series for the 'Group 2' students. Evaluation tests were used to measure the performance of each group after the exercise. It was apparent from the evaluation reports that the group experiencing the parallel provision of resources achieved a better overall learning rate than the sequential or series group.
It is felt this may be answered in two ways: The group receiving parallel input of information had an instant means of self evaluation of progress by comparing performance to the simulation whereas the sequential group had no reference or benchmark. The second reason could be the break in concentration and the 'loss factor' in the transfer of 'classroom knowledge' to the laboratory. Even a short break, or minimum distraction, is sufficient to disrupt the level of concentration and so in-depth learning and memory retention is hampered.
Keywords: Computer Technology, Milling C.N.C Machine, Auto Cad Software, C.N.C Program

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