July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Design in Engineering Education
Recent shifts in engineering education have called for a greater focus on the development of design skills and opportunities for students to apply technical and professional skills to authentic problems [1,2]. The creation of student-centered spaces for making and prototyping has supported this trend by providing engineering students with the opportunity to engage in authentic and collaborative problem-solving activities that can develop students’ 21st century skills [3–5]. Principles of constructionist learning theory, which promote the construction of knowledge through the development of and interaction with a physical product [6,7], can be applied to support learning within these spaces. In addition to construction of physical objects, this learning theory emphasizes a learning culture that is collaborative and student-centered .
This exploratory research seeks to understand how the principles of constructionism support learning in an engineering prototyping center (EPC) at a large western university. As part of a multi-year and multi-site study on the role of makerspaces in engineering education, semi-structured interviews with faculty, students and staff involved with an EPC at a western university were conducted. Thematic analysis of 15 interviews suggests that construction of physical prototypes within this space allows for the translation of abstract concepts to concrete experiences and the development of iterative design skills, which are critical skills in the engineering profession. Additionally, the data suggests that staff play an important role in guiding student learning, creating a collaborative culture, which promotes a growth mindset and life-long learning skills. Results of this study suggest that the integration of elements of constructionist learning principles can play a central role in supporting the development of engineering students in the EPC.
1. Froyd, J. E.; Wankat, P. C.; Smith, K. A. Five major shifts in 100 years of engineering education. Proc. IEEE 2012, 100, 1344–1360, doi:10.1109/JPROC.2012.2190167. 2. Wilczynski, V. Academic Makerspaces and Engineering Design. 2015. 3. Mills, J. E.; Treagust, D. F. Engineering Education - is Problem-Based or Project Based Learning the Answer? Australas. J. Eng. Educ. 2003. 4. Wigner, A.; Lande, M.; Jordan, S. S. How Can Maker Skills Fit in with Accreditation Demands for Undergraduate Engineering Programs? Am. Soc. Eng. Educ. 2016, doi:10.18260/p.25468. 5. Longo, A.; Yoder, B.; Guerra, R. C. C.; Tsanov, R. University Makerspaces: Characteristics and Impact on Student Success in Engineering and Engineering Technology Education. ASEE Annu. Conf. Expo. 2017, 1–19. 6. Martinez, S. L.; Stager, G. Invent to learn : making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom; Torrance: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press, 2013; ISBN 9780997554328. 7. Halverson, E. R.; Sheridan, K. The Maker Movement in Education. Harv. Educ. Rev. 2014, 84, 495–504, doi:10.17763/haer.84.4.34j1g68140382063. 8. Kafai, Y. B. Constructionism. In The Cambridge Handbook Of Learning Sciences; 2005; pp. 35–45.
Youmans, K., & Villanueva, I., & Bouwma-Gearhart, J., & Nadelson, L. (2021, July), Beyond Making: Application of Constructionist Learning Principles in Engineering Prototyping Centers Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36746
ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2021 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015