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Application of a Computerized Method for Evaluating Systems-Level Thinking

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Technological and Engineering Literacy/Philosophy of Engineering Division Technical Session 3

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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A. Mehran Shahhosseini Indiana State University

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A. Mehran Shahhosseini is an Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Engineering and Technology
Management at Indiana State University. He has published over 45 articles in different journals and conference proceedings. He has served as an investigator for research projects sponsored by National Science Foundation, Ford Motor Company, and the US Army. Before working at Indiana State University, he was a faculty
in the University of Louisville for 10 years. He also has over four years of industrial experience.
He received his D.Eng. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Lamar University (USA) in 1999, M.Sc. in Materials Engineering from Isfahan University of Technology (Iran) in 1991, and B.Sc. in Metallurgical Engineering from Tehran University (Iran) in 1988. He is a member of ASEE, ASME, SAE, and ATMAE.

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This work describes the application of a computerized tool to assess systems thinking capabilities of non-engineering students in an engineering literacy course and novice engineering students in an introductory engineering course. The program can analyze any block diagram node-and-link map of a system created by a student and then compare this to an expert-generated diagram. A similarity rating is then produced. The ability to describe a technological system in the form of a diagram is an important element of engineering literacy. Creating a diagram that shows how system inputs are transformed into outputs by a network of interconnected components is also one characteristic of systems-level thinking. In this study students are asked to extract information from multiple sources to create a systems-level block diagram that describes how a technological system works. Evaluating student-developed diagrams or concept maps is a time-consuming challenge for educators. We report results from preliminary testing of a computerized tool that compares student diagrams to an instructor-developed reference diagram. The rating of the student diagrams by the tool is in reasonable agreement with by-hand grading of the student diagrams by the instructor. Potential ways to improve the tool are discussed. This work has applications in promoting technological and engineering literacy by making it easier to evaluate engineering competencies that are different from numerical problem solving.

Krupczak, J., & Shahhosseini, A. M. (2019, June), Application of a Computerized Method for Evaluating Systems-Level Thinking Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32097

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