June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Educational Research and Methods
15.28.1 - 15.28.17
A Framework for Using Graphical Representations as Assessments of Engineering Thinking
Engineers and engineering students often face the challenge of comprehending complex systems because they are unsuccessful at recognizing major components in the system and the relationships between the components. Diagrams and sketches can facilitate their comprehension and communication of the complexity of a system. Their ability to construct and reason with these diagrams demonstrates their understanding of how to use the tools and their current conceptual understanding of the factors governing the behavior of that system. We are conducting a series of studies to better understand how students come to understand these tools better and its link to comprehending new domain knowledge.
This paper presents a theoretical framework for analyzing the interaction between knowledge associated with graphical representations (tools) to support thinking and the domain knowledge associated with using these tools to solve both routine problems and adapting ones knowledge to generate new knowledge (innovation). We used think aloud protocols and observation of dyads working on problem solving activities (designing, troubleshooting, analyzing or explaining) with these tools. We explored results from two pilot studies generating a House of Quality and functional block diagrams, which are both useful tools in making sense of a problem context. Participants constructed the diagrams as individuals or as part of a team. Results from these studies inform the development of a framework we use to guide our interpretation of students learning progression thinking will inform the design of timely and meaningful formative feedback in an automated formative assessment system called Graphical Representations to Assess System Performance (GRASP).
Proficiency in engineering domains requires experience applying the governing principles within a specified domain and the tools needed to support the comprehension and monitoring of factors indicating a system s performance (ability to achieve a function). These tools may appear simple to describe in its form and function, but difficult to apply strategically to a context. The context is defined as strategically, because it requires a multi-step logical, systematic interaction with domain knowledge. As experts we may be blind to this interaction1; therefore, we make
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