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A Pilot Study Assessing Student’s Problem and Information Identification Skills in an Introductory Engineering Design Course

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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

Systems Engineering Division Technical Session 1

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Andrea Goncher University of Florida

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Mengyu Li University of Florida


John Mendoza University of Florida

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Dr. John Mendoza Garcia is an Instructional Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering Education in the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering at the University of Florida. He received his Ph.D. in Engineering Education at Purdue University, and his Master’s and a Bachelor’s in Systems and Computing Engineering from Universidad de Los Andes, in Colombia, and Universidad Nacional de Colombia respectively.

He teaches professional skills like systems thinking, design thinking, problem-solving and
algorithmic thinking. Dr. Mendoza-Garcia’s research interests include investigating how to nurture in
students these skills. He also worked in Industry before transitioning to academia.

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The aim of our study is to properly assess students’ base level of their problem and information identification skill and identify the area(s) of development (gaps). The results provide us insights to develop effective teaching strategies to address these gaps.  These two dimensions were identified by Grohs et al. as part of the required for operationalizing systems thinking. Study participants completed an activity proposed by the assessment tool that focuses on systems thinking and problem-solving as engineers by responding to a scenario that addressed technical and social contexts. The activity focuses on students’ responses to a given scenario and the prompts intended to guide respondents in a systems-thinking approach. Data was collected electronically and analyzed using qualitative coding methods. We applied the assessment tool rubric to evaluate student responses using systems thinking constructs from the framework. Results from this study showed that most students identified the technical and contextual constructs related to the scenario, but had trouble identifying the interactions of various constructs at some level of complexity. This study is contributing to laying out the foundation of our overarching project in which we are seeking to develop f teaching content that focuses on systems thinking skills by providing a solid understanding of the current systems thinking skill baseline level among university engineering students. Results from this study will inform researchers and educators on how students understand and navigate complex systems problems at an introductory level.  

Goncher, A., & Li, M., & Mendoza, J. (2022, August), A Pilot Study Assessing Student’s Problem and Information Identification Skills in an Introductory Engineering Design Course Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN. 10.18260/1-2--40702

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