July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Community Engagement Division
Studies show that personal values can influence decision making, problem solving, and behaviour. We draw from this literature and analyse the link between personal value and designs produced by civil engineering students, as part of a Human-Centred Designing assignment. We also study the influence of priming on design decisions. We collected data on Schwartz’s Personal Value Systems of first- and third year civil engineering students at a university in Wales. Students were set a conceptual design task to fulfil a variety of human needs from subsistence to freedom, with the intention of elevating the quality of life of residents by meeting as many needs as possible. We analysed which Higher Order Values were more likely to produce designs with community-orientated spaces that enable residents to interact, fulfilling communal needs, termed ‘Communal Designs’. While the majority (63.93%) of first year students were in the Higher Order Value Self Transcendence category, which is aligned with communal values, only 27.78% of them produced a Communal Design, with 50% of these having higher-than-average social desirability scores. On the other hand, the majority of Communal Designs (73.33%) were produced by those in the Higher Order Value Openness to Change category, with only 18.18% of these having higher-than-average social desirability scores. These findings lead us to either doubt the accuracy of the claimed Higher Order Value of the majority of civil engineering students, or require us to make sense of the dissonance between proclaimed values held, and the lack of acting upon it to produce Communal Designs. Priming had no significant effect on whether a student produced a Communal Design, although it seemed to have a significant decreasing influence on Empathic Concern, which is associated with prosocial, altruistic, self-transcendent acts. Our study also shows that the majority (54.84%) of third year students, also had their primary Higher Order Value as Self Transcendence. Comparative analyses were run to search for differences in personal value systems between the first year and third year civil engineering students. It was found that third year students valued Tradition more than first year students. Tradition ultimately contributes toward the Higher Order Value of Conservation, which is opposed to Openness to Change, and thus the likelihood of a student producing a Communal Design. First year students had a significant correlation between their Basic Value of Tradition and their Higher Order Value of Self Enhancement, and between Tradition and their Higher Order Value of Openness to Change. Third year students were found to have a significant correlation between Tradition and their Higher Order Value of Self Transcendence. This is an interesting finding, given that Self Enhancement and Self Transcendence are opposing in nature, and that there has been discussion of how cultural values could change within engineering education over time. We also discuss whether Sheeran & Web’s ‘Intention - Behaviour Gap’ could offer an explanation of the dissonance between the Higher Order Value and the decision to act in accordance with it (for example, a Higher Order Value of Self Transcendence, a communal value, was hypothesised to lead to designs promoting community, but this did not occur). In taking this forward, the principles behind identifying Communal Designs were found to align to ‘Placemaking’, a term used in architectural urban design to cultivate spaces for community engagement. We propose that Placemaking could be integrated into civil engineering’s conceptual design education, as it may provide a framework for civil engineers to consider social impact of design.
Al Kakoun, N., & Boy, F., & Xavier, P. (2021, July), Are Civil Engineers "Practicing What They Preach?" Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36697
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