Art educators' perceptions of students of computer-aided design in the U.S. and in Taiwan: perspectives necessary for the design of programs to increase female university student willingness to use computer-aided design technology for the arts

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Texas Tech University

This study explores art educators' perceptions of female students who use computer-aided design (CAD) in the U.S. and Taiwan. Its qualitative research was conducted through in-depth interviews in which open-ended questions were discussed with instructors of CAD courses in the U.S. and Taiwan. Information gleaned from the teachers' observations and comments led to recommendations for program design that should increase U.S. and Taiwanese female university students' willingness to use CAD technology for the arts.

The interviewees comprised twenty volunteers: six men and three women who teach in the U.S. and seven men and three women who teach in Taiwan. The research questions are (1) how do art educators develop instructional activities in CAD courses? (2) what are art educators' perceptions of the relationship between the gender socialization and CAD learning? and (3) how do art educators perceive female students studying CAD?

In order to address the three research questions, the interview questions were based on a literature review framework that include three topics: the involvement of women in instructional activities in higher education, the socialization of women, and the nature of university courses in CAD for the arts. The three categories of interview questions comprised instructional activities, the socialization of women, and the learning of CAD software. The interview statements were designed to elicit similarities and differences between American and Taiwanese female students' participation in CAD instructional activities, understanding of the problems female students may face in CAD courses, and finally, identification of the problems they may have in using software such as 3DS MAX™, Autodesk VIZ™, and AutoCAD™.

There are certain differences in educational background and cultural tradition for women in the U.S. and Taiwan that shape their different values. According to the U.S. interviewees, their female students were self-confident about their professional knowledge. Their ability to learn computer skills was not much different from the male students' abilities. The U.S. interviewees found that many of their female students performed well in class. The Taiwanese interviewees held the same view as the U.S. interviewees that there are no differences in the two genders' ability to learn. However, Taiwanese women displayed somewhat weaker motivation for learning than their U.S. counterparts due to Taiwan's system of higher education and traditional family values. Taiwanese women students tend not to regard CAD-related employment as a likely lifelong career.

The interviewees suggested that having a basic prior knowledge of designing, drawing, and computer knowledge can help female students avoid frustration in learning advanced CAD software. Several interviewees brought up the relationship between computer graphics and artistic creativity. They suggested that CAD course design should not only focus on the study and development of skills, but also on the development of students’ creativity. Hence, this study claims that in order to elevate the quality of creative computer projects, it is required that the students develop a sense of visual art while taking courses in CAD.

This study indicates art educators' perceptions of the CAD learning of female students in the U.S. and Taiwan. The observations are useful for the development of pedagogy that can encourage female students to use CAD comfortably and efficiently.