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A Framework for an Engineering Reasoning Test and Preliminary Results.

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Dimensions of Engineering Literacy and Engineering in General Education

Tagged Division

Technological and Engineering Literacy/Philosophy of Engineering

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Paper Authors


John Krupczak Jr Hope College

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Professor of Engineering, Hope College, Holland, Michigan. Former Chair of the ASEE Technological Literacy Division; Former Chair of the ASEE Liberal Education Division; Senior Fellow CASEE, National Academy of Engineering, 2008-2010; Program Officer, National Science Foundation, Division of Undergraduate Education 2013-2016.

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Mani Mina Iowa State University

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Mani Mina is with the department of Industrial Design and Electrical and Computer Engineering at Iowa State University. He has been working on better understanding of students' learning and aspects of technological and engineering philosophy and literacy. In particular how such literacy and competency are reflected in curricular and student activities. His interests also include Design and Engineering, the human side of engineering, new ways of teaching engineering in particular Electromagnetism and other classes that are mathematically driven. His research and activities also include on avenues to connect Product Design and Engineering Education in a synergetic way.

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Kate A Disney Mission College

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Kate Disney has been teaching engineering at the community college level since 1990. Her interests are promoting greater gender and racial balance in engineering as well as exciting students through open-ended projects and applications.

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The work reported here describes the development and initial testing of a framework to help assess the broad understanding of technology by individuals who are not specifically educated as engineers. It is generally accepted that technology is essential to our current lifestyles and well-being, and the importance of engineering to economic prosperity is commonly acknowledged. However limited work has been done determine the extent to which undergraduates possess a general understanding of the principles, products, and processes of technology. A challenge in developing assessments of engineering and technological literacy is the diverse audiences seen as beneficiaries of such knowledge. Arguments have been made for greater understanding of engineering and technology for diverse groups such as the general public; liberal arts undergraduates; managers in technologically-based industries; other professionals such as lawyers, policy makers, and public servants; and even those trained as engineers. Each of these groups is seen as benefiting from different aspects of technological and engineering literacy leading to difficulty in developing broadly applicable assessment methods. To address this dilemma the current work developed a framework based on the fundamental nature of technological systems and, using this framework, developed an initial engineering reasoning assessment. The basic elements of the framework are the following. Technological systems are created to achieve a function that is accomplished through physical form. Technological systems transform materials, energy, and information. Function is provided by components combined into systems. Components utilize physical phenomena which can be modeled using mathematics. Systems employ diverse interacting phenomena. Component functions transfer across systems. Systems can become components in other systems and systems are sociotechnical. System design creates component ensembles with emergent properties. Technological system domains are groups of systems related by a set of shared component types and underlying physical principles. Technological systems evolve often by a process of substitution at the component and subsystem level. This framework is independent of any particular type of technology and lends itself to higher order thinking rather than simple recall of specific facts or repetition of rote procedures. A set of pilot questions has been developed and tested with a range of students across multiple institutions. The results of this initial testing are described. This work seeks to demonstrate the potential feasibility of establishing assessment methods that can be used with students who are not majoring in one of the STEM disciplines.

Krupczak, J., & Mina, M., & Disney, K. A. (2017, June), A Framework for an Engineering Reasoning Test and Preliminary Results. Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--27463

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