Teaching for CAD expertise

Original Paper


CAD (Computer Aided Design) has now become an integral part of Technology Education. The recent introduction of highly sophisticated, low-cost CAD software and CAM hardware capable of running on desktop computers has accelerated this trend. There is now quite widespread introduction of solid modeling CAD software into secondary schools but how much is really known about the processes of learning and teaching CAD, particularly solid modeling? This paper will discuss current practice in CAD teaching and the way this relates to solid modeling. It will discuss the findings of current research with particular emphasis on the difference between command knowledge and strategic knowledge and how this relates to the development of CAD expertise. Command knowledge is referred to as knowledge of the commands (algorithms or tools) and the procedures to use those tools within CAD software while strategic knowledge is concerned with knowledge of the alternate methods by which a specific task may be achieved and the process by which a choice may be made. The results of a recent experimental study into the teaching of CAD expertise will then be outlined and the implications for the teaching and learning process will be discussed.


CAD Expertise Metacognition Strategic knowledge Procedural knowledge Declarative knowledge Spatial ability Scaffolding Mental set 


  1. Aleven, V. A. W. M. M., & Foedinger, K. R. (2002). An effective metacognitive strategy: Learning by doing and explaining with a computer-based cognitive tutor. Cognitive Science, 26, 147–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alias, M., Black, T. R., & Gray, D. E. (2002). Effect of instructions on spatial visualisation ability in civil engineering students. International Education Journal, 3(1), 165–175.Google Scholar
  3. Anderson, J. R. (1990). Cognitive psychology and its implications. New York: Freeman.Google Scholar
  4. Ault, H. K. (2003). A comparison of solid modeling curriculum approaches. American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition conference proceedings. Retrieved September 14, 2005 from www.asee.org/acPapers/2003-1268_Final.pdf.Google Scholar
  5. Baartmans, B. G., & Sorby, S. A. (1996). Introduction to 3-D spatial visualization. London: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  6. Baylis, G.C., & Driver, J. (1995). One-sided edge assignment in vision: 1. Figure-ground segmentation and attention to objects. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 4(5), 140–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ben-Chaim, D., Lappan, G., & Houang, R. T. (1988). The effect of instruction on spatial visualization skills of middle school boys and girls. American Educational Research Journal, 25 1, 51–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bhavnani, S., & John, B.E. (1996). Exploring the unrealized potential of computer-aided drafting. Chi 96 conference proceedings. USA: AVM Press.Google Scholar
  9. Bhavnani, S., & John, B. (1997). From sufficient to efficient usage: an analysis of strategic knowledge. Chi 97 conference proceedings (pp. 91–98). Atlanta:Georgia.Google Scholar
  10. Bhavnani, S., Garrett, J., & Shaw, D. (1993) Leading Indicators of CAD Experience. CAAD Futures ‘93, pp. 313–334.Google Scholar
  11. Bhavnani, S., John, B. E., & Flemming, U. (1999). The strategic use of CAD: an empirically inspired, theory-based course. Chi 99 conference proceedings (pp. 183–190). Pittsburgh:Pennsylvania.Google Scholar
  12. Biederman, I. (1987). Recognition-by-components: A theory of human understanding. Psychological Review, 94, 2. 115–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Collins, Brown, & Newman (1989). In L. B. Resnick (Ed.), Knowing, learning and instruction. essays in honor of Robert Glaser. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  14. Duesbury, R. T., & O’Neil, H. F. (1996) Effect of practice in a computer-aided design environment in visualizing three-dimensional objects from two-dimensional orthographic projections. Journal of Applied Psychology, 81(3), 249–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gaughran, W. F. (2002). Cognitive modeling for engineers. American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition conference proceedings. American Society for Engineering Education.Google Scholar
  16. Goldman, S. R., & Petrosino, A. J. ( 1999). Design principles for instruction in content domains: Lessons from research on expertise and learning. In F. T. Durso (Ed.), Handbook of Applied Cognition. West Sussex: John Wiley and Sons.Google Scholar
  17. Gott, S. P. (1988–1989). Apprenticeship instruction fro real-world tasks: the coordination of procedures, mental models, and strategies. Review of Research in Education, 15, 97–169.Google Scholar
  18. Harman, K. L., Humphrey, G. K., & Goodale, M. A. (1999). Active manual control of object views facilitates visual recognition. Current Biology, 9, 1315–1318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hoffman, D. D., & Singh, M. (1997). Salience of visual parts. Cognition, 63, 29–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Landa, L. N. (1983). The algo-heuristic theory of instruction. In C. M. Reigeluth (Ed.), Instructional-design theories and models: An overview of their current status (Vol. 1). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Elrbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  21. Lang, G. T., Eberts, R. E., Gabel, M. G., & Barash, M. M. (1991). Extracting and usingprocedural knowledge in a CAD task. IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, 38, 257–268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lord, T. (1985). Enhancing visuo-spatial aptitude of students. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 22, 395–405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Luchins, A. S. (1942). Mechanization in problem solving: The effect of Einstellung. Psychological Monographs, 54 (Whole No. 248).Google Scholar
  24. Mathewson, J. H. (1999) Visual-spatial thinking: An aspect of science overlooked by educators. Sci Ed, pp. 83:33–54. London: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  25. Matlin, M. W. (2005). Cognition. New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons.Google Scholar
  26. Newell, A., & Simon, H. A. (1972). Human problem solving. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  27. Norman, G. R., Le Blanc, & Brooks, L. R. (2000). On the difficulty of noticing obvious features in patient appearance. Psychological Science, 11(2), 112–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Reigeluth C. M. (Ed) (1983). Instructional-design theories and models: An overview of their current status. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  29. Resnick L. B. (Ed) (1989). Knowing, learning and instruction. Essays in honor of Robert Glaser. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Google Scholar
  30. Rodriguez, J., Ridge, J., Dickinson, A., & Whitwam, R. (1998). CAD Training Using Interactive Computer Sessions. American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition conference proceedings. Retrieved August 28, 2003 from www.asee.org/conferences/search/00048.PDF.Google Scholar
  31. Rynne, A., Gaughran, W. F., & McNamara, B. (2003). Parametric modelling training strategies to capture design intent. ICPR - 17th International Conference on Production Research conference proceedings (pp. 1–8). Virginia: Blacksburg.Google Scholar
  32. Schoenfeld, A. H. (1987). Cognitive science and mathematics education. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  33. Schyns, P. G., Goldstone, R. L., & Thibaut, J. (1998). The development of features in object concepts. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 21, 1–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Sheppard, R. N., & Metzler, J. (1971). Mental rotation of three dimensional objects. Science, 171, 701–703.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Siddiqi, K., & Kimia, B. B., (1995). Parts of visual form: Computational aspects. IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, 17(3), 39–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Sorby, S. (1999). Spatial abilities and their relationship to computer aided design instruction. American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition conference proceedings. Retrieved September 3, 2003 from http://www.asee.org/conferences/search/99conf577.PDF.Google Scholar
  37. Sorby, S. A., & Baartmans B. J. (1996). Improving the 3-D Spatial Visualization Skills of Women Engineering Students. Proceedings of the 1996 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition.Google Scholar
  38. Sternberg, R. J. (1990). Metaphors of mind; conceptions of the nature of intelligence. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Stevenson, J. (1984). Teaching adaptability in TAFE. Unpublished doctoral thesis. Brisbane: University of Queensland. .Google Scholar
  40. Tarr, M. J., & Bulthoff, H. H. (1995). Is human object recognition better described by geon structureal descriptions or by multiple views? comment on Biederman and Gerhardstein (1993). Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 21(6), 1494–1505.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Yue, J., & Chen, D. (2001). Does CAD improve spatial visualization ability? American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition conference proceedings. Retrieved August 28, 2003 from http://www.asee.org/conferences/search/00276_2001.PDF.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Learning ResearchGriffith UniversityBrisbaneAustralia

Personalised recommendations