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  1. This Research Work-In-Progress reports the implementation of an Object Assembly Test for sketching skills in an undergraduate mechanical engineering graphics course. Sketching is essential for generating and refining ideas, and for communication among team members. Design thinking is supported through sketching as a means of translating between internal and external representations, and creating shared representations of collaborative thinking. While many spatial tests exist in engineering education, these tests have not directly used sketching or tested sketching skill. The Object Assembly Test is used to evaluate sketching skills on 3-dimensional mental imagery and mental rotation tasks in 1- and 2-point perspective. We describe revisions to the Object Assembly Test skills and grading rubric since its pilot test, and implement the test in an undergraduate mechanical engineering course for further validation. We summarize inter-rater reliability for each sketching exercise and for each grading metric for a sample of sketches, with discussion of score use and interpretation. 
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  2. Sketching is a valuable skill in engineering for representing information, developing design ideas, and communicating technical and abstract information. It is an important means of developing spatial abilities which are predictive of success in STEM fields. While existing spatial ability tests are predictive of engineering visualization skills, they do not allow students to develop drawing skills through spatial exercises. The Object Assembly Sketching test examines sketching skills with object assembly tasks using mental imagery and mental rotation. This study focuses on the development and pilot testing of a new sketching skills test using object assembly exercises. We piloted the test in two sections of an undergraduate mechanical engineering design course. Inter-rater reliability of two raters scoring students sketches on eight criteria was acceptable across exercises, but low across criteria. Students scored highest on Representation Accuracy, Scale, and Symmetry, and exhibited complex understanding of perspective sketching. We intend to revise the rubric to score for aesthetics and make instructions more precise. 
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  3. In 2016 the Hispanic enrollment in computer science and computer engineering for both undergraduate and graduate students at Texas A&M University initially sat at 17.9% and has decreased to approximately 11.76% in 2021, with undergraduate Hispanic enrollment in computing reducing from almost 22% down to under 15% in that same time frame[1]. This significant shift in Hispanic student representation spurred the development of this organization, Aggie Hispanics In Computing (AHIC), to create a computing community and provide support focused around the shared experiences of being part of a minority group at a predominately white institution (PWI) in an even less diverse discipline. This organization is not a lone member of Hispanic serving organizations at Texas A&M University, overall considered a Hispanic serving institution (HSI), rather it was designed to focus particularly on serving Hispanic students in the computer science and computer engineering disciplines at Texas A&M University. Since the organization was founded during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, AHIC has grown significantly in membership, financial support, and goal attainment focused on increasing representation of Hispanic students within the computing disciplines at Texas A&M University. The organization has grown from 6 to over 50 members from various disciplines in the past year alone. AHIC has also received financial support from a multitude of companies such as General Motors, Chevron, and others. The overall goal of AHIC is to create a supportive community for minorities in various computing fields. This community has been grown through hosting supporting events that provide information and resources about university research, professional career opportunities, workshops, and mentorship programs. AHIC has also initiated several long-term initiatives such as peer teaching for introductory computer science courses in the past year. We have focused on company panels and alumni coaching in which company representatives and alumni provide career advice for currently enrolled students. The organization has also hosted seminars and workshops educating freshmen on new computing skills and opportunities that a computer science and computer engineering degree can provide. This paper will discuss the need recognized for a minority focused and serving computing organization and how the formation of Aggie Hispanics In Computing provides a community that is promising for the future of minorities in the computing field at Texas A&M University. 
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  4. In this Lessons Learned paper, we explore the themes uncovered from a series of facilitated faculty discussions on moving their course back to face to face teaching after the switch to online. The Institute at Anonymous University administrates over 100 faculty whose primary department appointments and teaching assignments are in either engineering or education. Over the last two years, the Institute hosted numerous conversations for faculty members to share experiences, research, and assessments of teaching successes and concerns as they changed instructional modalities, both with the initial move online and the subsequent move back face to face. From these conversations, faculty agree that some things during the move to online instruction, such as office hours, video archives of lectures, and some activities in break-out rooms appear to enhance student learning. Yet data showed that students believed the online experience was less desirable than face to face courses. Now that we have had a near complete semester where most classes were required to be held in the face to face mode, we are hosting conversations with faculty to understand the changes they are now making to their teaching because of the experiences from online instruction. 
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  5. This Research Work In Progress Paper examines empirical evidence on the impacts of feedback from an intelligent tutoring software on sketching skill development. Sketching is a vital skill for engineering design, but sketching is only taught limitedly in engineering education. Teaching sketching usually involves one-on-one feedback which limits its application in large classrooms. To meet the demands of feedback for sketching instruction, SketchTivity was developed as an intelligent tutoring software. SketchTivity provides immediate personalized feedback on sketching freehand practice. The current study examines the effectiveness of the feedback of SketchTivity by comparing students practicing with the feedback and without. Students were evaluated on their motivation for practicing sketching, the development of their skills, and their perceptions of the software. This work in progress paper examines preliminary analysis in all three of these areas. 
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  6. Freehand sketching is a powerful skill in engineering design [1, 2]. Freehand sketching empowers designers in the early stages of design to express ideas, communicate with stakeholders, and evaluate concepts at a rapid pace. However, teaching sketching in engineering education poses unique challenges for the classroom. Sketching in other domains is often taught in studio-style courses where instructors can provide personalized feedback on technique. This type of feedback is not possible in typical large entry-level engineering graphics courses. To address this problem, Sketchtivity was developed as an intelligent tutoring software to aid instructors in providing feedback on sketching. Using a tablet and smart pen, learners receive real-time personalized feedback on sketching practice. The main goals of this project are to improve sketching instruction methods, understand the educational efficacy of Sketchtivity, and work towards improving the feedback and content of Sketchtivity. 
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  7. Abstract Background

    Sketching exists in many disciplines and varies in how it is assessed, making it challenging to define fundamental sketching skills and the characteristics of a high‐quality sketch. For instructors to apply effective strategies for teaching and assessing engineering sketching, a clear summary of the constructs, metrics, and objectives for sketching assessment across engineering education and related disciplines is needed.


    This systematic literature review explores sketching assessment definitions and approaches across engineering education research.


    We collected 671 papers from five major engineering and education databases at all skill levels for reported sketching constructs and metrics, cognition, and learning contexts. Based on the selection criteria, we eliminated all but 41 papers, on which we performed content analysis.


    Engineering, design, and art emerged as three major disciplines in the papers reviewed. We found that sketching assessment most often employs metrics on accuracy, perspective, line quality, annotations, and aesthetics. Most collected studies examined beginners in undergraduate engineering design sketching or drawing ability tests. Cognitive skills included perceiving the sketch subject, creatively sketching ideas, using metacognition to monitor the sketching process, and using sketching for communication.


    Sketching assessment varies by engineering discipline and relies on many types of feedback and scoring metrics. Cognitive theory can inform instructional activities as a foundation for sketching skills. There is a need for robust evidence of high‐quality assessment practices in sketching instruction. Assessment experts can apply their knowledge toward improving sketching assessment development, implementation, and validation.

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  8. Freehand sketching equips engineers to rapidly represent ideas in the design process, but most engineering curriculums fall short of equipping students with adequate sketching skills. This paper is focused on methods to improve engineers’ sketching skill through type of instruction, length of instruction, and delivery of and feedback for assignments using Sketchtivity, an intelligent sketch-tutoring software. We answer several key questions for providing better sketching education for engineers. Does perspective training improve freehand drawing ability? Can an intelligent tutoring software improve education outcomes? And how much sketching instruction is necessary for engineers? Analyzing the changes in sketching skill from pre- to post-sketching instruction between different instruction types (n = 116), we found that perspective sketching instruction significantly improved freehand sketching ability compared to traditional engineering sketching methods. When comparing pre to post sketching skill of students using Sketchtivity (n = 135), there was no significant difference in improvement between students using the intelligent tutoring software and those that exclusively practiced on paper – both groups improved equally. However, completing sketching tasks on tablets did not hinder students’ skill development even when measured on paper. Future work will more directly explore the influence of Sketchtivity on sketching skill development. Additionally, we found that five weeks of sketching instruction greatly improves sketching skill compared to only three weeks of instruction (n = 108), but both approaches significantly improve sketching self-efficacy. These outcomes support more extensive sketching instruction in engineering classrooms, and changes in instruction type to promote more freehand sketching skills. 
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  9. The culture within engineering colleges and departments has been historically quiet when considering social justice issues. Often the faculty in those departments are less concerned with social issues and are primarily focused on their disciplines and the concrete ways that they can make impacts academically and professionally in their respective arena’s. However, with the social climate of the United States shifting ever more towards a politically charged climate, and current events, particularly the protests against police brutality in recent years, faculty and students are constantly inundated with news of injustices happening in our society. The murder of George Floyd on May 25th 2020 sent shockwaves across the United States and the world. The video captured of his death shared across the globe brought everyone’s attention to the glaringly ugly problem of police brutality, paired with the COVID-19 pandemic, and US election year, the conditions were just right for a social activist movement to grow to a size that no one could ignore. Emmanuel Acho spoke out, motivated by injustices seen in the George Floyd murder, initially with podcasts and then by writing his book “Uncomfortable Converstations with a Black Man” [1]. In his book he touched on various social justice issues such as: racial terminology (i.e., Black or African American), implicit biases, white privilege, cultural appropriation, stereotypes (e.g., the “angry black man”), racial slurs (particularly the n-word), systemic racism, the myth of reverse racism, the criminal justice system, the struggles faced by black families, interracial families, allyship, and anti-racism. Students and faculty at Anonymous University felt compelled to set aside the time to meet and discuss this book in depth through the video conferencing client Zoom. In these meetings diverse facilitators were tasked with bringing the topics discussed by Acho in his book into conversation and pushing attendees of these meetings to consider those topics critically and personally. In an effort to avoid tasking attendees with reading homework to be able to participate in these discussions, the discussed chapter of the audiobook version of Acho’s book was played at the beginning of each meeting. Each audiobook chapter lasted between fifteen and twenty minutes, after which forty to forty-five minutes were left in the hour-long meetings to discuss the content of the chapter in question. Efforts by students and faculty were made to examine how some of the teachings of the book could be implemented into their lives and at Anonymous University. For broader topics, they would relate the content back to their personal lives (e.g., raising their children to be anti-racist and their experiences with racism in American and international cultures). Each meeting was recorded for posterity in the event that those conversations would be used in a paper such as this. Each meeting had at least one facilitator whose main role was to provide discussion prompts based on the chapter and ensure that the meeting environment was safe and inclusive. Naturally, some chapters address topics that are highly personal to some participants, so it was vital that all participants felt comfortable and supported to share their thoughts and experiences. The facilitator would intervene if the conversation veered in an aggressive direction. For example, if a participant starts an argument with another participant in a non-constructive manner, e.g., arguing over the definition of ethnicity, then the facilitator will interrupt, clear the air to bring the group back to a common ground, and then continue the discussion. Otherwise, participants were allowed to steer the direction of the conversation as new avenues of discussion popped up. These meetings were recorded with the goal of returning to these conversations and analyzing the conversations between attendees. Grounded theory will be used to first assess the most prominent themes of discussion between attendees for each meeting [2]. Attendees will be contacted to expressly ask their permission to have their words and thoughts used in this work, and upon agreement that data will begin to be processed. Select attendees will be asked to participate in focus group discussions, which will also be recorded via Zoom. These discussions will focus around the themes pulled from general discussion and will aim to dive deeper into the impact that this experience has had on them as either students or faculty members. A set of questions will be developed as prompts, but conversation is expected to evolve organically as these focus groups interact. These sessions will be scheduled for an hour, and a set of four focus groups with four participants are expected to participate for a total of sixteen total focus group participants. We hope to uncover how this experience changed the lives of the participants and present a model of how conversations such as this can promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and access activities amongst faculty and students outside of formal programs and strategic plans that are implemented at university, college, or departmental levels. 
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  10. It is challenging to effectively educate in large classes with students from a multitude of backgrounds. Many introductory engineering courses in universities have hundreds of students, and some online classes are even larger. Instructors in these circumstances often turn to online homework systems, which help greatly reduce the grading burden; however, they come at the cost of reducing the quality of feedback that students receive. Since online systems typically can only automatically grade multiple choice or numeric answer questions, students predominately do not receive feedback on the critical skill of sketching free-body diagrams (FBD). An online, sketch-recognition based tutoring system called Mechanix requires students to draw free-body diagrams for introductory statics courses in addition to grading their final answers. Students receive feedback about their diagrams that would otherwise be difficult for instructors to provide in large classes. Additionally, Mechanix can grade open-ended truss design problems with an indeterminate number of solutions. Mechanix has been in use for over six semesters at five different universities by over 1000 students to study its effectiveness. Students used Mechanix for one to three homework assignments covering free-body diagrams, static truss analysis, and truss design for an open-ended problem. Preliminary results suggest the system increases homework engagement and effort for students who are struggling and is as effective as other homework systems for teaching statics. Focus groups showed students enjoyed using Mechanix and that it helped their learning process. 
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