Virtual On line
June 22, 2020
June 22, 2020
June 26, 2021
Design in Engineering Education
Engineering education departments have explored the potential of first-year project-based learning (PBL) to introduce students to engineering design practices and broaden participation pathways. PBL activities that engage students in design groups provide unique opportunities to involve students in design discourse to develop, negotiate, and fine-tune design decisions. Researchers have examined the benefits of PBL on students’ collaboration and identification with engineering design through self-reported surveys or interviews. Analyzing design discourse in first-year engineering teams provides a venue to explore students’ varied collaboration patterns in relation to design decision-making in the moment, rather than retrospective reporting.
In this study, we examine the collaborative design decision process among first-year engineering teams. This study took place in a two-quarter first-year PBL engineering course to design, build and test an autonomous device. We explored the joint design choices students made, particularly the regulation processes that they engaged in during decision-making. Design decision is conceptualized as choosing an idea or solution among alternatives, after a period of careful ideation, modeling, feasibility analysis, and evaluation. We hypothesize that first-year engineering students who engaged in more collaborative planning would produce more design decisions that are supported with feasibility analyses and evaluation.
Analyses draw from the audio transcripts of four teams’ discussion, as they worked on their engineering design projects over three weeks during lab sessions (total 24 hours of recording). We examine how the frequency of collaboration patterns relates to the number of engineering design decisions within teams. Additionally, we employ Epistemic Network Analysis to visualize the collaboration patterns among teams in dynamic network models, displaying the structure of connections among collaboration phases as well as the strength of those associations over time.
Results indicate that design decisions varied by groups. Groups with more complex collaboration patterns—employing all collaboration phases, particularly task understanding, strategic planning, and progress monitoring—more frequently engaged in shared design decision process. The patterns about engagement in different design processes resemble observations about expert versus novice designers. We discuss the implications of the findings for instructors and engineering departments to structure collaborative learning opportunities conducive to design decision processes. Future work includes examination of the differences in learning gains among individuals, by gender, prior achievement, and collaboration patterns, to explore the mechanisms in which students collaborated and the impacts on student learning.
Nguyen, H., & Wu, L. L., & Washington, G. N., & Lim, K. Y., & Fischer, C. (2020, June), Collaboration Patterns and Design Practices in First-Year Project-Based Engineering Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34298
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