Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Louann Bierlein Palmer


This study provides information for higher education leaders that have or are considering conducting Computer Aided Design (CAD) instruction using student owned notebook computers. Survey data were collected during the first 8 years of a pilot program requiring engineering technology students at a four year public university to acquire a notebook computer for a class formerly conducted in a conventional computer laboratory. Data from 148 students was used to develop five metrics which are described and quantitatively evaluated: (a) student preference for notebook computer instruction, (b) student perception of learning, (c) out of class hands-on operating time, (d) economic impact of the notebook computer purchase, and (e) the severity of operational problems experienced.

The results of the study indicate that all measures evaluated did not exhibit significant variation during the period of the study. Students preferred notebook computer instruction primarily because of added flexibility and they perceived learning more in these classes relative to classes conducted in a conventional computer laboratory. Students used their computer on class related activities for 2.1 hours outside of class for each hour of in-class time. The study uses a unique method to determine the economic impact experienced by students in obtaining the required notebook computer and establishes that students spent an average of $631 more than necessary despite identifying cost as their most significant area of concern. Operational problems, as reported by students, were found to be few in number and severity. The quantitative findings of the research are supported and expanded by student comments and a separate survey of faculty with direct experience teaching the class evaluated.

Extending upon prior studies addressing factors important to previous notebook computer implementations, this research describes the value of using similar metrics in future implementations of both student owned notebook computers as well as other new technologies. A number of recommendations for such future applications are provided for higher educational leaders.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access