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Assessing Student Understanding of Reflection in Engineering Education

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Research on Design Learning

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Kristine R. Csavina Arizona State University

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Dr. Kristine Csavina is Clinical Assistant Professor in the The Polytechnic School of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University, where she is the Associate Director for Engineering Program Innovation. Currently she is the instructor for the senior capstone design experience and active in program improvement for the engineering programs. She is Co-PI on on the CPREE grant; both PIs are active in expanding the practice of reflection in classrooms across the engineering programs at ASU.

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Cherrylynne Rochelle Nethken Arizona State University


Adam R. Carberry Arizona State University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Adam Carberry is an assistant professor at Arizona State University in the Fulton Schools of Engineering Polytechnic School. He earned a B.S. in Materials Science Engineering from Alfred University, and received his M.S. and Ph.D., both from Tufts University, in Chemistry and Engineering Education respectively. Dr. Carberry was previously an employee of the Tufts’ Center for Engineering Education & Outreach and manager of the Student Teacher Outreach Mentorship Program (STOMP).

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The use of reflection in engineering education is often used but with little investigation to the utility or effectiveness in engineering education. Efforts made by the Consortium to Promote Reflection in Engineering Education (CPREE) have drawn attention to how reflection is used in the engineering curriculum. What is unknown is whether students recognize why their courses embed reflection activities. The following paper assessed student conceptions of what it means to reflect and why they are asked to reflect in their project-based design courses. Our intended goal was to see if students understood what reflection is and appreciate reflection as a lifelong skill rather than assignments to be graded or a waste of time. Our findings suggest that most students see reflection as an opportunity to look back at what they have done. A subset of students also saw reflection as a process or something that will impact future actions. Students mostly associated reflection with positive actions rather than focusing on mistakes and failures. They saw the main intent of reflection as being learner-centered, with some seeing reflection as having impact on a design project, their profession, life, or the particular class in which they were asked to reflect. This explicit look at student conceptions of reflection within a design context provides faculty with an understanding of what students bring to their class and how they can frame reflection activities to better compliment their students learning.

Csavina, K. R., & Nethken, C. R., & Carberry, A. R. (2016, June), Assessing Student Understanding of Reflection in Engineering Education Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26306

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