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An Experiential Learning Framework for Improving Engineering Design, Build, and Test Courses

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Studies in Engineering Design

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Jackson Lyall Autrey University of Oklahoma Orcid 16x16

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Jackson Autrey is a Master of Science student in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Oklahoma from Tulsa, Oklahoma. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Oklahoma and is currently involved with research into assessment methods and pedagogy in engineering design education. Following completion of his Master’s degree, Jackson plans to pursue a PhD. in Engineering with a focus on engineering education.

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Shalaka Subhash Ghaisas University of Oklahoma

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Shalaka has pursued a B.A. in Economics and M.A. in English from Fergusson College. She has completed her MS in Teaching and Curriculum from Syracuse University.

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Xun Ge University of Oklahoma

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Dr. Xun Ge (University of Oklahoma, is Professor of Instructional Psychology and Technology in the Department of Educational Psychology, Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education, the University of Oklahoma. Her research expertise involves the design of question prompts in scaffolding students’ complex and ill-structured problem solving and self-regulated learning. Dr. Ge (2004) developed a conceptual framework using question prompts and peer interactions to facilitate discussion and problem-based learning in online learning communities, which was published in Educational Technology Research and Development, a leading journal in the field of instructional design and technology. In addition, Dr. Ge has also investigated the design of various cognitive tools and learning technologies in the context of problem- based learning. Dr. Ge’s scholarly inquiry is also an attempt to bridge cognition and metacognition with motivation. She has conducted extensive research in STEAM education in various educational settings, and she has collaborated with researchers and scholars from diverse disciplines around the world.

Dr. Ge has published numerous refereed journal articles, book chapters, and two edited books published by Springer. She has been recognized for a number of academic awards by Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT), including 2012 Outstanding Journal Article, 2004 Outstanding Journal Article, and 2003 Young Scholar Award. Dr. Ge has been serving on the editorial board of several major refereed journals, including Educational Technology Research & Development, Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning, and Technology, and Knowledge and Learning.

In addition, Dr. Ge serves as the Chair for the Problem-based Education Special Interest Group for the American Educational Research Association. She also serves on several editorial boards on some leading journals in the field of educational psychology and technology, including Contemporary Educational Psychology (2017 – ), Educational Technology Research and Development (2011-2013; 2016-2018), Technology, Knowledge, and Learning (2013 – present), Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning (2010 – 2015).

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Zahed Siddique University of Oklahoma

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Zahed Siddique is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering of University of Oklahoma. His research interest include product family design, advanced material and engineering education. He is interested in motivation of engineering students, peer-to-peer learning, flat learning environments, technology assisted engineering education and experiential learning. He is the coordinator of the industry sponsored capstone from at his school and is the advisor of OU's FSAE team.

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Farrokh Mistree University of Oklahoma

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Farrokh’s passion is to have fun in providing an opportunity for highly motivated and talented people to learn how to define and achieve their dreams.

Farrokh Mistree holds the L. A. Comp Chair in the School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma. Prior to this position, he was the Associate Chair of the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech – Savannah. He was also the Founding Director of the Systems Realization Laboratory at Georgia Tech.

Farrokh’s current research focus is the model-based realization of complex systems by managing uncertainty and complexity. The key question he is investigating is what are the principles underlying rapid and robust concept exploration when the analysis models are incomplete and possibly inaccurate? His quest for answers to the key question is anchored in three projects, namely,

Integrated Realization of Robust, Resilient and Flexible Networks

Integrated Realization of Engineered Materials and Products

Managing Organized and Disorganized Complexity: Exploration of the Solution Space

His current education focus is on creating and implementing, in partnership with industry, a curriculum for educating strategic engineers—those who have developed the competencies to create value through the realization of complex engineered systems.


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It is argued that there is an increasing need for the incorporation of educational theory into engineering design, build, and test (DBT) courses. In particular, we contend that incremental improvements to such courses must rely on such theories as they apply to the experiences of students in preceding iterations of the course. In our course XXXX, a senior-level engineering DBT course, we have incorporated David Kolb’s experiential learning construct into the fabric of course activities, assignments, and structured learning exercises. One such structured learning exercise is the ‘learning statement,’ (LS) a reflective exercise in which students directly translate experience into learning and articulate expected future value from that learning. We have collected learning statement data from four sections of the course spanning two years, and now seek to incorporate learning theories into our understanding of learning reported by the students over the course of their design project.

In particular, we are interested in using the reported learning of the students, interpreted through learning theories, and leveraging that new understanding to make changes and improvements to the course to improve future learning outcomes for students in the course. Specifically, we intend to incorporate Piaget’s (1977) cognitive constructivism and Vygotsky’s (1978) sociocultural theory as manifested in David Kolb’s experiential learning, some constructs from motivation theories. In employing the learning statement as an instrument for a formative assessment, we attempt to identify each individual student’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). Further, as we share learning statement ‘best practices’ in XXXX, we create opportunities for social interactions to come into play by challenging students to articulate their learning through the LS. We posit that engineering design education stands to benefit from the incorporation of robust learning theories pioneered in other disciplines. We theorize that incorporating these models more thoroughly into our own approaches to building engineering DBT courses will likely improve our students’ own outcomes.

In this paper, we leverage a text-mining approach to demonstrate a framework for interpreting self-assessment data collected from students in our course, XXXX, through the lens of educational theory. Specifically, we will identify each student’s ZPD by text-mining student LS over the course of a DBT project and examine the differences between LS students prepare individually and as a team through the lens of social constructivist theory. In general we find that, for a large number of students, the self-assessment exercise prompts students to acquire new knowledge and apply it unaided (per the ZPD) in particular areas important to forming and planning with a team, developing concepts, and critically analyzing the design process, though for most this transition occurs for most late in the DBT project.

REFERENCES Piaget, J. (1977). The role of action in the development of thinking. In W. F. Overton & J. M. Gallagher, Knowledge and development (pp. 17–42). Springer-Verlag, US. Vygotsky, L.S. (1978). Mind in Society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Autrey, J. L., & Ghaisas, S. S., & Ge, X., & Siddique, Z., & Mistree, F. (2018, June), An Experiential Learning Framework for Improving Engineering Design, Build, and Test Courses Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--29786

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