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Contextualized Design Projects in Graphics and Visualization Course: Student Perceptions and Sustainability Systems-thinking Knowledge

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Engineering Design Graphics Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

Engineering Design Graphics

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Raghu Pucha Georgia Institute of Technology

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Dr. Raghu Pucha is a Senior Lecturer at the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, in the area of CAD/CAE and Manufacturing. Dr. Pucha teaches computer graphics and design courses at Georgia Tech., and conducts research in the area of developing computational tools for the design, analysis and manufacturing of advanced materials and systems. Dr. Pucha has three provisional U.S. patents and co-authored over 60 research papers. He is honored with Undergraduate Educator Award in 2012 and Geoffrey G. Eichholz Faculty Teaching Award in 2015 from the Center for Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (CETL) at Georgia Tech.

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Sunni Haag Newton Georgia Institute of Technology

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Sunni Newton is currently a Senior Research Scientist at the Georgia Institute of Technology in the Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing (CEISMC). Her research focuses on assessing the implementation and outcomes of educational interventions at the K-12 and collegiate levels. She received her MS and Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Georgia Tech in 2009 and 2013, respectively. She received her BS from Georgia Tech in 2006, double-majoring in Psychology and Management.

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Meltem Alemdar Georgia Institute of Technology

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Dr. Meltem Alemdar is Associate Director and Senior Research Scientist at Georgia Tech's Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing (CEISMC). Dr. Alemdar has experience evaluating programs that fall under the umbrella of educational evaluation, including K-12 educational curricula, K-12 STEM programs after-school programs, and comprehensive school reform initiatives. Across these evaluations, she has used a variety of evaluation methods, ranging from a multi-level evaluation plan designed to assess program impact to methods such as program monitoring designed to facilitate program improvement. She received her Ph.D. in Research, Measurement and Statistics from the Department of Education Policy at Georgia State University (GSU).

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Rebecca Watts Hull Georgia Institute of Technology

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Adhiraj Bhagat Georgia Institute of Technology

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To prepare engineering students with critical perspectives and a deep contextual understanding of sustainability without sacrificing disciplinary rigor is a pressing challenge. Engineering graduates are not typically trained to situate themselves within problem contexts in order to independently frame problem requirements. The key barriers to incorporating sustainable development in engineering education include a crowded curriculum, perceived irrelevance of sustainability content, and limited institutional or external stakeholder commitment. In 2016, our university started an initiative in which faculty from all colleges work collaboratively to develop courses and co-curricular opportunities that will help students learn about sustainability and community engagement. These opportunities allow students to hone their sustainability-related skills along with the discipline skills by engaging in real-world projects.

This paper presents a socio-technical project-based learning model with a three-tier sustainability intervention that was implemented in a freshman design graphics course. Student perceptions of the interventions as well as assessment results on sustainability systems-thinking skills will be presented. Systems-thinking is identified as an important learning outcome related to incorporating sustainability in engineering classroom. Additionally, systems- thinking provides an understanding of a system by examining the linkages and interactions between the elements that comprise the whole system. Sustainability systems-thinking skills include (i) identifying dynamic relationships among ecological, social, and economic factors of sustainability and (ii) understanding the influence of context and stakeholders and (iii) evaluating how design decisions influences the sustainability of communities. The sustainability interventions in the course include (i) just-in-time lectures to introduce sustainability concepts (ii) technology-in-social contexts activities intended to help students understand how social context can influence the success or failure of an engineering design and (iii) contextualized student projects, which include (a) individual projects that address wasteful human behavior and environmental sustainability in product designs and (b) team projects that address social, environmental and economic sustainability aspects in designing large engineering structures. The assessment plan includes an investigation of students’ a) perceptions of the sustainability-related interventions and b) standing on a set of sustainability-thinking skills. Data on these two outcomes of interest are gathered through the use of end of semester surveys as well as written reflection activities included in student projects. Student survey results are analyzed with descriptive statistics and thematic analysis for open-ended items. Written reflections are scored with institute-developed rubrics tied to each system-thinking skill, depending on the nature of a given reflection prompt.

Initial results from thematic analysis of open-ended student survey items suggest that after experiencing the sustainability intervention, students exhibit an initial understanding of the three key components of sustainability: social, economic, and environmental factors. Students mostly perceive the sustainability interventions positively, valuing the opportunity to learn about sustainability and how engineers can design for sustainability. Initial results have informed additions to the survey, with a revised survey designed to further explore student perceptions of the intervention and their sustainability-related learning currently under development for use during the 2019-2020 school year. Scoring of student reflections using institute developed rubrics to assess sustainability-thinking skills is ongoing.

Pucha, R., & Newton, S. H., & Alemdar, M., & Hull, R. W., & Bhagat, A. (2020, June), Contextualized Design Projects in Graphics and Visualization Course: Student Perceptions and Sustainability Systems-thinking Knowledge Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34330

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