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This paper describes a pilot study to evaluate Freehand Sketching for Engineers, a one credit, five week course taught to undergraduate engineering students. The short-term goal of this course was to improve engineering students’ freehand sketching ability and to assess their progress with metrics. The long-term objective (desired learning outcome) of this course is to improve the creativity and innovation of student design projects by enhancing students’ ability to visualize their ideas with freehand sketches. The class met two days a week for 75 min per day. Students were taught to draw simple objects such as electrical boxes, with orthographic, isometric, and oblique views on 8 ½ x 11 in. sheets of blank paper (no grid lines) and wooden #2 pencils. No instruments, such as rulers and compasses, were allowed. The course required students to apply what they learned in the classroom and included many examples of hands-on, active and student-centered learning activities.

Two assessments were performed to measure whether students improved their ability to freehand sketch. The first involved two outside reviewers (industrial designers) who evaluated each student’s sketch of a pipe fitting that was drawn in the first class (pre-test) and a sketch of the same pipe fitting in the eighth class (after 7 hours of instruction - post-test). Sketches were evaluated using a 1 (poor) to 7 (excellent) Likert scale. The second assessment consisted of an evaluation of the final projects, which were a collection of five sketches with different views of an engineered product. Evaluations of the pre- and post-test drawings and the final projects by outside reviewers and positive observations by engineering faculty suggest that this course has the potential to improve students’ ability to sketch objects.

This paper discusses details of the course, provides examples of student sketches, and presents results of outside reviewer assessments. It includes suggestions for a more rigorous assessment of the course to determine its potential to improve students’ ability to sketch objects.


Published version. Published as part of the proceedings of the conference, 120th ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, 2013. Permalink. © American Society for Engineering Education 2013. Used with permission.