While recent design efforts have led to the development of virtual dissection tools that reduce the costs associated with physical dissection, little is known about how these virtual environments impact student design learning. Therefore, the current study was developed to address this knowledge gap through two investigations: (1) an experimental study that examines the impact of virtual dissection on design learning, knowledge retention, and self-efficacy and (2) a qualitative study focused on student experiences during virtual dissection. These studies show that physical dissection leads to a higher electromechanical self-efficacy gain compared with virtual dissection; however, the method of dissection did not affect student learning. We use these findings to provide recommendations for the use of product dissection in design education.
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