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The Conceptual Approach to CAD Education

By D. Shaw


Recent research at the Corps of Engineers Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL) investigated embedded computer-based instruction for AutoCAD. The results of this study, which are the focus of this paper, indicated that the only factor which correlated with success in completing the final test was previous experience with another CAD system. Those who knew another CAD system had higher scores and required less than half the time to complete the lessons. Presumably their conceptual knowledge about CAD transferred to the new software environment, even though the Corps'study showed that they were initially biased against learning the new system. Such biased attitudes have been observed when users are asked to learn a second similar software of any kind.  Architects who are deeply involved in computer-aided design have stated that one must learn to program the computer to build the conceptual framework for the creative process. We at CERL agree that an understanding of underlying graphics concepts is essential to the designer. Our research shows that giving students the freedom to explore an existing software program can result in the development of conceptual knowledge. Interviews also reveal that students can invent ways to meet individual objectives when “guided discoveryi learning is encouraged

Year: 1988
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