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Characterizations and Portrayals of Intuition in Decision-Making: A Systematic Review of Management Literature to Inform Engineering Education

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Student Empathy and Human-Centered Design

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Emily Dringenberg Ohio State University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Dringenberg is an assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Ohio State University. She holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering (Kansas State '08), a MS in Industrial Engineering (Purdue '14) and a Ph.D. in Engineering Education (Purdue ’15). Her research is focused on decision-making within the context of engineering design. She is working to leverage engineering education research to shift the culture of engineering to be more inclusive of diverse individuals and more in alignment with current research on decision-making. With a focus on qualitative research methods, she is working to better understand the ways in which undergraduate engineering students experience design and ill-structured problem solving. Her interests also include neuroscience, growth mindset, engineering ethics, and race and gender in engineering. In general, Dr. Dringenberg is always excited to learn new things and work with motivated individuals from diverse backgrounds to improve engineering education.

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Annie Abell Ohio State University

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Annie Abell is an Assistant Professor of Practice at The Ohio State University in the Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering. Abell received her BS in Mechanical Engineering from Valparaiso University and a MFA in Design Research & Development from The Ohio State University with an emphasis on Industrial Design. She teaches project-based, product design courses to senior-level and graduate engineering students, team-based capstone design courses for mechanical engineering students, as well as an interdisciplinary product development course for entrepreneurship students who come from across OSU.

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Engineers' decisions drive the of design our ever-changing world. What engineers design, how they design, and who they include in the design process all involves decision-making. How those decisions are made ultimately impacts our quality of life. When making decisions, people (and therefore engineers!) utilize at least three distinct forms of reasoning: rational, intuitive , and emotive. Engineering education currently emphasizes rational approaches to decision-making. User-centered design experiences can expose students to the importance of developing empathy for the user throughout the design process, which can encourage emotive reasoning strategies. However, students' exposure to intuitive reasoning, which plays a role in all decision-making, is limited during their undergraduate engineering formation. In an effort to generate a baseline for how we can operationalize intuition in the context of engineering education, the purpose of our current research was to synthesize characterizations and portrayals of intuitive reasoning. We focused on literature from the field of management because intuition is considered in the context of complex, strategic decisions, which are reflective of the design decisions central to engineering. The specific research questions addressed in this study are 1) how does extant management literature characterize intuition?, and 2) how does extant management literature portray the value of intuition? To answer these research questions, the research team conducted a systematic literature review. The results of this effort provide a summary of the ways in which scholars have defined and portrayed the role of intuition with respect to complex decision-making. Based on this synthesis, we recommend that engineering educators develop innovative ways of teaching decision-making that does not remove the teaching of rational methods, but finds way to integrate intuitive reasoning. We provide brief recommendations for how we might begin to shift engineering education towards more realistic and inclusive ways of teaching decision-making.

Dringenberg, E., & Abell, A. (2018, June), Characterizations and Portrayals of Intuition in Decision-Making: A Systematic Review of Management Literature to Inform Engineering Education Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30185

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