The Relative Pedagogical Value of Disassemble/Analyze/Assemble (DAA) Activities

ABSTRACT

Inherently a discovery-based pedagogy, Disassemble/Analyze/Assemble (DAA) activities start with the artefact–an instance of a typically well-engineered solution. Through systemized disassembly and the subsequent analysis of components, students engage in an iterative process of observation and follow-up probing. In-turn, this process helps students understand the function of the artefact’s components and their interconnection with each other and the operation of the artefact. Previous studies have provided highly descriptive accounts of curricula outcomes of DAA activities; but relatively few have compared participants doing DAA activities to a control group learning the same content in a more traditional fashion. To address this issue, a quasi-experiment was conducted as part of a first-year engineering laboratory, where a DAA activity was compared to a lecture on the same content. The results showed that students who engaged in the DAA activity were more motivated and demonstrated higher frequencies of transfer than those receiving lecture. Superior transfer by the DAA condition was found even after controlling for prior knowledge of the transferrable element.

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