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Board # 124 : Research Initiation: Transformative Approaches to Teaching User-Centered Design

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

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NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Tahira N Reid Purdue University, West Lafayette (College of Engineering)

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Dr. Tahira N. Reid is currently an Assistant Professor in the School of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University and is the director of the Research in Engineering and Interdisciplinary Design (REID) Lab. Her research interests include: developing methods to enhance the design process and that support the decision-making of engineers and designers in the design process. Prior to Purdue, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Mechanical Engineering department at Iowa State working in the Interdisciplinary Research in Sustainable (IRIS) Design Lab. In 2010, she received her PhD from the University of Michigan in Design Science, with Mechanical Engineering and Psychology as her focus areas. Dr. Reid received both her BS and MS degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2000 and 2004, respectively.

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Morgan M Hynes Purdue University, West Lafayette (College of Engineering)

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Dr. Morgan Hynes is an Assistant Professor in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University and Director of the FACE Lab research group at Purdue. In his research, Hynes explores the use of engineering to integrate academic subjects in K-12 classrooms. Specific research interests include design metacognition among learners of all ages; the knowledge base for teaching K-12 STEM through engineering; the relationships among the attitudes, beliefs, motivation, cognitive skills, and engineering skills of K-16 engineering learners; and teaching engineering.

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The objective of this proposal is to initiate research on how compassionate design activities can help develop engineering students’ self and social awareness. Engineers design solutions within complex contexts that often have broader social, political, economic, and environmental impact. However, research has shown a culture of disengagement in the professional formation of engineers. This culture of disengagement is one where engineers often separate the technical aspects of their work from the social context of the solution in an attempt to be impartial and objective in their decision making. Yet the complex social contexts in which engineers design are becoming more and more important as engineered solutions now have an expanding reach in our global society. To more fully engage engineering students’ in social contexts, the work of this proposal will challenge engineering students to be compassionate in their design work to develop solutions that address users’ fears, dignity, freedom, and emotional well-being. For example, they may design cancer diagnostic equipment that moves away from the sterile, robotic aesthetic toward a softer, friendlier experience for these highly emotional situations. The research team is exploring how this kind of design experience develops engineering students’ self and social awareness as well as their overall approach to the engineering design process. The research team is testing these activities in a first-year engineering course as well as sophomore and senior mechanical engineering design courses. A series of surveys, reflection assignments, and interviews are being administered and analyzed to provide insights into the effectiveness of this approach in raising students’ awareness and ability to consider multiple perspectives (an important ability in engineering design).

This plan follows a design research approach and will take place in the PIs design courses for initial testing and preliminary data collection as the team builds toward a larger research proposal. The team will work to address three guiding research questions: RQ1: Does compassionate design enable students to develop self/social awareness?; RQ2: Does compassionate design appeal to a different type of engineering student?; RQ3: How does the compassionate design framework impact the students’ design process? The broader impact of such a professional orientation could attract and retain a new kind of student in engineering as well as promoting a professional orientation that emphasizes the humanitarian values of engineering.

Reid, T. N., & Hynes, M. M. (2017, June), Board # 124 : Research Initiation: Transformative Approaches to Teaching User-Centered Design Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--27717

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