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Bridging the Gap Between Academia and Industry in Approaches for Solving Ill-Structured Problems: Problem Formulation and Protocol Development

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Conference

2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Problem Solving, Adaptive Expertise, and Social Engagement

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count

10

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/30157

Download Count

25

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Paper Authors

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Secil Akinci-Ceylan Iowa State University

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Secil Akinci-Ceylan is a graduate student at Iowa State University. She received her BA in Linguistics at Hacettepe University, Turkey in 2008. She holds a Master's degree in Teaching English as a Second Language in Applied Linguistics Program at Iowa State University. She worked as a lecturer at Izmir Institute of Technology between 2009 and 2012 and then at Iowa State University in 2016 and 2017.

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Kristen Sara Cetin Iowa State University

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Dr. Kristen S Cetin is an Assistant Professor at Iowa State University in the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering.

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Renee Fleming

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Benjamin Ahn Iowa State University

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Andrea E. Surovek South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

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Dr. Andrea Surovek. P.E. is a research scientist in the area of biomimicry for sustainable construction at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. She is a fellow of both ASCE and the ASCE Structural Engineering Institute and was awarded the ASCE Winter award in 2016 for contributions to the field of structural engineering. She is the recipient of the ASEE CE Division Seeley Fellowship and the Mechanics Division Beer and Johnston Outstanding New Mechanics Educator Award. She received her PhD from Georgia Tech, and also holds degrees In Civil Engineering and in Visual and Performing Arts from Purdue University

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Bora Cetin Iowa State University

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Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering

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Paige Taylor

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Abstract

One of the main skill of engineers is to be able to solve problems throughout their professional career. It is generally recognized that real-world engineering problems are inherently ill-structured in that they are complex, defined by non-engineering constraints, are missing information, and contain conflicting information. Therefore, it is very important to prepare future engineering students to be able to anticipate the occurrence of such problems, and prepared to solve them. However, most courses are taught by academic professors and lecturers whose focus is on didactic teaching of fundamental principles, and code-based design approaches leading to predetermined “right” answers. The difference in most classroom-taught methods to solve well-structured problems, and the methods needed to solve ill-structured problems are strikingly different. The focus of our current effort is to compare and contrast the problem solving approaches employed by students, academics and practicing professionals in an attempt to determine if students are developing the necessary skills to tackle ill-structured problems. To accomplish this, an ill-structured problem is developed, which later on will be used to determine, based on analysis of oral and written responses of participants in semi-structured interviews, attributes of the gap between student, faculty, and professional approaches to ill-structured problem solving. Based on the results of this analysis, we will identify what pedagogical approaches may limit and/or help student’s abilities to develop fully-formed solutions to ill-structured problems.

This project is currently ongoing. This work-in-progress paper will present the study and proposed methods, and will be discussed at the conference. Based on this feedback from the broader research community, the studies will be refined. The current phase includes three parts, (1) problem formulation; (2) protocol development; and a (3) pilot study. For (1), two different ill-structured problems were developed in the Civil Engineering domain. The problem difficulty assessment method was used to determine the appropriateness of each problem developed for this study. For (2), a protocol was developed in which participants will be asked to first solve a simple problem to become familiar with the interview format, then are given 30 minutes to solve the provided ill-structured problem, following a semi-structured interview format. Participants will be encouraged to speak out loud and also write down what they are thinking and their thought processes throughout the interview period. Both (1) and (2) will next be used for (3) the pilot study. The pilot study included interviewing three students, three faculty members and three professional engineers. Each participant completed both problems following the same protocol developed. Post-interview discussion are held with the pilot study participants individually to inquire if there were any portions of the tasks that are unclearly worded or could be improved to clarify what was being asked. Based on these results the final problem is chosen and refined.

Akinci-Ceylan, S., & Cetin, K. S., & Fleming, R., & Ahn, B., & Surovek, A. E., & Cetin, B., & Taylor, P. (2018, June), Bridging the Gap Between Academia and Industry in Approaches for Solving Ill-Structured Problems: Problem Formulation and Protocol Development Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/30157

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