Alejandra J. Magana

Alejandra J. Magana
Purdue University | Purdue · Department of Computer and Information Technology (IT)

Doctor of Philosophy

About

168
Publications
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1,347
Citations

Publications

Publications (168)
Article
Computational thinking (CT) is a critical skill needed for STEM professionals and educational interventions that emphasize CT are needed. In engineering, one potential pedagogical tool to build CT is modeling, an essential skill for engineering students where they apply their scientific knowledge to real-world problems involving planning, building,...
Article
Full-text available
Background Previous work has identified that the benefits of learning with videogames and learning from simulations. However, recent meta‐analytic work has also identified that little research directly compares learning with videogames and learning with simulations. Objectives This study examines two learning technologies and their corresponding p...
Article
Fluid Mechanics courses comprise both theoretical and laboratory modules. In developing nations, computer‐assisted techniques are not commonly applied in Fluid Mechanics instruction. Forced by the COVID‐19 pandemic, South American universities are, however, using them for online teaching. This contribution presents an 8‐semester (2016–2019) educati...
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In this exploratory study, we investigated students’ design thinking strategies during a challenge involving the design of an energy-efficient house. We used the Informed Design Teaching and Learning Matrix as a framework for characterizing the students’ design thinking, focusing on four specific strategies—generating ideas, conducting experiments,...
Article
This document presents a systematic review of Multimodal Human–Computer Interaction. It shows how different types of interaction technologies (virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality, force and vibration feedback devices (haptics), and tracking) are used in different domains (concepts, medicine, physics, human factors/user experience design, tra...
Article
We evaluated the effect of three teaching strategies to facilitate teamwork in a systems analysis and design course during the COVID‐19 pandemic: (1) offering a HyFlex version of the course, (2) facilitating scheduled online teamwork sessions for all students, and (3) providing conflict resolution training to help teams overcome collaboration chall...
Article
Computer-aided design (CAD) programs are essential to engineering as they allow for better designs through low-cost iterations. While CAD programs are typically taught to undergraduate students as a job skill, such software can also help students learn engineering concepts. A current limitation of CAD programs (even those that are specifically desi...
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The discipline of data science is gaining attention due to a significant increase in the amount of data generated on a real-time basis. Despite the efforts from the institutions and national agencies, it has been witnessed that there have been substantial challenges in retaining and attracting students in the discipline of data science. Learning co...
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Avatar identification is one of the most promising research areas in games user research. Greater identification with one's avatar has been associated with improved outcomes in the domains of health, entertainment, and education. However, existing studies have focused almost exclusively on the visual appearance of avatars. Yet audio is known to inf...
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Virtual reality (VR) has disrupted the gaming market and is rapidly becoming ubiquitous. Yet differences between VR and traditional mediums, such as controllers that are visible in the virtual world, enable entirely new approaches to instruction. In this paper, we present four studies, each using a different VR game. Within each study, we compared...
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Engineering learning, a three-dimensional construct that includes Engineering Habits of Mind, Engineering Practices, and Engineering Knowledge, has been well established and defined at the post-secondary level (Reed, 2018). Meanwhile, engineering within pre-kindergarten through 12th grade (P-12) classrooms continues to grow steadily. Changes introd...
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Information technology professionals are required to possess both technical and professional skills while functioning in teams. Higher education institutions are promoting teamwork by engaging students in cooperative and project-based learning environments. We characterized teams based on their collective orientations and evaluated their team perfo...
Preprint
Computer-aided design (CAD) programs are essential to engineering as they allow for better designs through low-cost iterations. While CAD programs are typically taught to undergraduate students as a job skill, such software can also help students learn engineering concepts. A current limitation of CAD programs (even those that are specifically desi...
Conference Paper
A residential learning community (RLC) is an integration of academic and social settings that assists learners to create meaningful learning experiences. An RLC allows students with similar interests to live and learn together. Living in an RLC improves retention by helping students develop a sense of belonging and disciplinary identity. As such, R...
Conference Paper
Teamwork is an important skill valued by corporate employers across the globe. As such, it is crucial for students to learn teamwork for the purpose of securing a job and performing well in corporate environments. In addition to certain technical skills, essential 21st-century skills include communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and crea...
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This study implements a design-based research approach to design and evaluate different scaffolding strategies for supporting student learning as well as promoting student agency within a computational science course. The course introduces computational methods and tools in the context of disciplinary problems for materials science and engineering...
Article
Reflective practice is becoming a more necessary skill across all disciplines and industry sectors. This study describes the reflective processes capstone engineering students engaged with as part of modelling-based learning assignments over the entire course of a semester. Students answered multiple reflection questions asking them about planning,...
Article
This multiple case study focused on the implementation of a computer-aided design (CAD) simulation to help students engage in engineering design to learn science concepts. Our findings describe three case studies that adopted the same learning design and adapted it to three different populations, settings, and classroom contexts: at the middle-scho...
Article
The purpose of this study was to explore the process of designing a visuohaptic simulation for learning structural analysis following a learner‐centered approach (LCD). Our implementation of an LCD approach followed a three‐part iterative process: (1) requirements analysis and specification, (2) multimedia application design, and (3) prototype insp...
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Research on learning communities has primarily focused on identifying institutional outcomes such as student achievement and retention. However, more research is needed on how the learning community experience impacts the motivation, beliefs, and perceptions associated with student success. This study investigates the psychosocial effects of partic...
Article
Engineering design problems are ill‐structured, and as a result, learners find it challenging to engage productively in relevant practices of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation for solving problems in the domain. Teachers find it particularly difficult to effectively support such engagement. Thus, there is a need to understand how teachers orchest...
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This study investigates the relationship between two related computational thinking practices: data practices and computational problem-solving practices in acquiring related computational thinking practices during a first-year undergraduate engineering course. While computational thinking theory is still developing, empirical studies can help furt...
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There is growing awareness of the need for mathematics and computing to quantitatively understand the complex dynamics and feedbacks in the life sciences. Although several institutions and research groups are conducting pioneering multidisciplinary research, communication and education across fields remains a bottleneck. The opportunity is ripe for...
Article
Background: Computation and computational thinking are of great interest to both engineering research and teaching communities. Effective learning environments are needed to incorporate computational thinking within the engineering disciplines. Design-based research is uniquely positioned to address this need for designing effective learning enviro...
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Scrum methodology is widely used in the information technology (IT) industry for the purposes of team-based iterative software development. However, limited studies have been conducted to explore the nature of interactions between a Scrum Master and other team members and the effect of these interactions on team effectiveness. The aim of this study...
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In this paper, a map of the state of the art of recent medical simulators that provide evaluation and guidance for surgical procedures is performed. The systems are reviewed and compared from the viewpoint of the used technology, force feedback, learning evaluation, didactic and visual aid, guidance, data collection and storage, and type of solutio...
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The current study investigates the differences in students’ explanations of friction concepts after the use of the visuohaptic simulation with two different of sequenced approaches: enhanced visual first to enhanced visual and haptic feedback second (V → V + H), and haptic enhanced first to enhanced visual and haptic feedback second (H → V + H). Pa...
Article
Modeling is an important element of discovery and design processes because it can help individuals to comprehend and facilitate solutions to problems, mediate among mental and external representations, and off-load cognitive demands. However, engaging in model generation, comprehension, and transformation requires the orchestration of domain knowle...
Preprint
Full-text available
In this article we describe Hack.VR, an object-oriented programming game in virtual reality. Hack.VR uses a VR programming language in which nodes represent functions and node connections represent data flow. Using this programming framework, players reprogram VR objects such as elevators, robots, and switches. Hack.VR has been designed to be highl...
Article
Computational thinking is of growing interest to the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education research community. Calls from national agencies look to increase computation in STEM education. This review identifies key areas for future study by reviewing recent empirical studies that investigate computational thinking in te...
Article
Computational modeling is an essential and growing topic of interest in engineering and STEM education, in general. In this paper, a case study of a course targeting first‐year materials science and engineering students is overviewed to investigate student arguments when explaining their implementation and understanding of their computational model...
Conference Paper
This full paper presents an implementation of a technology-enabled learning environment such as MATLAB Live, used to enhance student experience when engaging with computational modeling activities within a capstone engineering course. Computational modeling and simulation are key aspects within engineering education. As such, continued progress tow...
Article
Full-text available
This working paper presents the process of revamping a traditional hands-on laboratory course in an Aeronautics and Astronautics engineering program using a virtual equipment approach. Six traditional hands-on experiments will be used in a pilot program that aims to create virtual counterparts for each real experiment in the Aeromechanics course. T...
Article
Mathematical modeling is both an important tool to professional engineers and instructional method in engineering education. This paper reviews the literature around mathematical modeling activities in the undergraduate engineering classroom. Twenty-seven journal articles were selected through a literature review process based on decided inclusion...
Preprint
Full-text available
There is growing awareness of the need for mathematics and computing to quantitatively understand the complex dynamics and feedbacks in the life sciences. Although individual institutions and research groups are conducting pioneering multidisciplinary research, communication and education across fields remains a bottleneck. The opportunity is ripe...
Preprint
The conceptualization of Computational Thinking as a cross-cutting skill with relevance across disciplines has ushered in wide-ranging efforts to increase computational education in all facets of education. However, the majority of initiatives for integrated computing education have focused on K-12 settings, as has most education research around co...
Article
In this study, we analyzed students’ reasoning and explanations of friction concepts before and after engaging in guided experimentation with visuohaptic (VH) simulations. The VH experimentation included two affordances: visual cues and haptic feedback. Specifically, we analyzed the outcomes of two treatment groups with different sequences of affor...
Article
Full-text available
Virtual learning environments can now be enriched not only with visual and auditory information, but also with tactile and kinesthetic feedback. However, the way to successfully integrate haptic feedback on a multimodal learning environment is still unclear. This study aims to provide guidelines on how visuohaptic simulations can be implemented eff...
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In science and engineering education, the use of heuristics has been introduced as a way of understanding the world, and as a way to approach problem-solving and design. However, important consequences for the use of heuristics are that they do not always guarantee a correct solution. Learning by Design has been identified as a pedagogical strategy...
Article
Contribution: Knowledge of students' Habits of Mind in a signal processing course, and a method for education research. The method identifies factors that may influence students' performance, but are not evident when analyzing agglomerated data; it is an alternative to the traditional case study method as it derives the cases after applying a clust...
Article
Full-text available
Experimentation is one of the important strategies used in engineering design to understand the relationship between relevant variables so that they can be manipulated to generate optimized solution for a particular problem or design. The understanding of students’ experimentation strategies allows educators to help students improve their design ex...
Article
Background Modeling and simulation practices have become commonplace in modern engineering, but in‐depth research on the development of modeling and simulation expertise is needed to identify the learning processes involved in successfully acquiring these skills. Purpose This study investigated student dimensions of expertise when engaged in model...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This study looks at how students experienced the first iteration of the designed intervention. The research presented here intends to investigate the following research questions: (1) How can modeling- based learning experiences be designed to supplement a capstone design course? (2) What are students perceived overall advantages of the modeling-ba...
Article
Creating explanations is an important process for students, not only to make connections between novel information and background knowledge, but also to be able to communicate their understanding of any given topic. This article explores students’ explanations in the context of computational science and engineering, an important interdisciplinary f...
Article
There has been an increased emphasis on designing integrated STEM learning environments for K-12 students that facilitate seamless learning of disciplinary concepts infused with science inquiry, engineering design, mathematical reasoning, and technological skills. However, there is limited prior research investigating how to facilitate such integra...
Article
Full-text available
Computational tools and methods have permeated multiple science and engineering disciplines, because they enable scientists and engineers to process large amounts of data, represent abstract phenomena, and to model and simulate complex concepts. In order to prepare future engineers with the ability to use computational tools in the context of their...
Article
Full-text available
Engineering design thinking is hard to teach and still harder to learn by novices primarily due to the undetermined nature of engineering problems that often results in multiple solutions. In this paper, we investigate the effect of teaching engineering design thinking to freshmen students by using a computer-aided Design (CAD) simulation software....
Article
Conducting experiments is an important practice for both engineering design and scientific inquiry. Engineers iteratively conduct experiments to evaluate ideas, make informed decisions, and optimize their designs. However, both engineering design and scientific experimentation are open‐ended tasks that are not easy to assess. Recent studies have de...
Article
Much can be learned from the vast work on the use of computer simulations for inquiry learning for the integration of modeling and simulation practices in engineering education. This special issue presents six manuscripts that take steps toward evidence‐based teaching and learning practices. These six studies present learning designs that align lea...
Conference Paper
Geometric transformations play an important role in a vast variety of disciplines. Although they belong to the fundamental concepts, they are also difficult to comprehend. Thousands of students take courses of algebra every year and although they may conceptually understand the transformations and mechanically solve the presented problems, they oft...
Article
Contribution: This paper adds to existing literature on teaching basic concepts of electricity using computer-based instruction; findings suggest that students can develop an accurate understanding of electric circuits when they generate multiple and complementary representations that build toward computational models. Background: Several studies h...
Article
Agile methods such as Scrum that emphasize technical, communication, and teamwork skills have been practiced by IT professionals to effectively deliver software products of good quality. The same methods combined with pedagogies of engagement can potentially be used in the setting of higher education to promote effective group learning in software...