The Impact of Virtual Dissection on Engineering Student Learning and Self-Efficacy

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Product dissection activities are widely practiced in engineering education as a means of increasing student learning and understanding of core engineering concepts. While recent efforts in this area of research have sought to develop and utilize virtual dissection tools in order to reduce and mitigate the costs of physical dissection activities, little data exists on how virtual dissection impacts student learning and understanding. This lack of data makes it difficult to draw conclusions on the utility of virtual dissection tools for enhancing engineering instruction. In this paper we present the results of a controlled experiment conducted with first-year engineering students developed to examine the impact of virtual dissection on engineering student learning and self-efficacy. Our results revealed that student learning appeared to be unaffected through the use of virtual dissection environments. However, electro-mechanical self-efficacy gains were smaller for students who performed virtual dissection compared to students who performed physical dissection. These results add to our knowledge of the impact that virtual dissection tools can have on student learning and understanding and enable us to develop recommendations and guidelines for improving the effectiveness of these tools in engineering education.


ASME 2014 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, August 17-20, Buffalo, NY.