Learners walk through a difficult technical diagram

In a welding metallurgy class at Madison Area Technical College, participants learned to read a complicated diagram by actually walking through it.

The diagram is called the Iron-Iron Carbide Diagram, which shows different melting points for metals.

First, Instructor Valerie Wehman gave learners masking tape and asked them to move all tables and chairs to the edge of the room. Using a picture of the diagram, learners worked together to reconstruct a huge recreation of the diagram on the floor using the tape.

Then a volunteer walked through the diagram, explaining what structure he or she would start out as and how he or she would change by going through the various stages of the cooling process. Then other learners walked through the diagram explaining different processes.

Later the class had a test and everyone scored 100%. This is unprecedented," Valerie explains. "This is typically a hard topic for students and usually only one or two people get all the questions correct." A few weeks later, Valerie conducted a verbal test and, she says, "I could tell the long-term retention was vastly improved over previous semesters."