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Design Swapping as a Method to Improve Design Documentation

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

The Best of Design in Engineering

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.402.1 - 25.402.13



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Paper Authors

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Shawn S. Jordan Arizona State University Orcid 16x16

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Odesma Onika Dalrymple Arizona State University, Polytechnic

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Nielsen L. Pereira Western Kentucky University


Yacob Astatke Morgan State University

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Yacob Astatke completed both his doctorate of engineering and B.S.E.E. degrees from Morgan State University (MSU) and his M.S.E.E. from Johns Hopkins University. He has been a full time faculty member in the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department at MSU since Aug. 1994 and currently serves as the Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies. He teaches courses in both analog and digital electronic circuit design and instrumentation. Astatke has more than 10 years’ experience in the development and delivery of synchronous and asynchronous web-based ECE courses in the USA and abroad. He is the recipient of the 2012 ASEE Mid-Atlantic Section’s Distinguished Teaching Award.

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Jerry-Daryl Fletcher Morgan State University

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Design Swapping as a Method to Improve Design Documentation Design educators are often challenged with motivating students to generate detaileddesign documentation and provide constructive feedback to peers. However, due to the limitedscope of class design projects and lack of real-world industry experience, student understandingof the necessity of clear design communication is often lacking. Strict grading of designdocumentation and frequent instructor feedback can improve the quality of documentation, butdoes not help students experientially understand its importance. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of using “design swapping”to improve both the quality of design documentation and the quantity of discussion and feedbackamong teams during design reviews. Design swapping is the notion of having student teamsswap designs shortly after a design review such that they construct another team’s design. Itbetter simulates real-world engineering by separating design and manufacturing, in addition topreparing students for outsourcing environments. This study took place in three versions of 1-week Rube Goldberg engineering designsummer camps for middle and high school students. Rube Goldberg machines are chain-reaction devices that complete a simple task, such as popping a balloon, in overly complex ways.Students participated in a rigorous engineering design exercise in which they designed RubeGoldberg machines, participated in design reviews, swapped designs among teams, and finallybuilt another team’s design while communicating with the designing team as required. Version1 had 16 students working in 5 teams in the same site. Version 2 had 36 students working in10 teams at two different sites in the USA. Version 3 had 57 students working in 15 teamsacross two sites in the USA and one in Trinidad. Teams used face-to-face communication,videoconferencing tools, and web-based collaborative word processing tools for communication.In Version 1, teams were not told prior to the design review that they would swap designs. InVersions 2 and 3, teams were told just prior to the design review that they would swap designs. The primary research question was, how does design swapping affect the quality ofdesign documentation and quantity of discussion during design reviews? A design-basedresearch methodological framework was used to design an effective learning environment whileconducting research in the environment. The data collected included daily beginning and end ofday reflective essays, design review reflective essays, design artifacts, design review videos, andvideos of post-design review discourse. Results indicate that the quality of design artifacts was superior when students knew priorto the design review that they would be building another team’s design. In addition, the quantityof discourse increased significantly when students were told they would be swapping designsprior to the design review. These results can help to inform design process structure for facultyteaching design to undergraduates or secondary students, in addition to those wishing to simulateindustry outsourcing and separate design and manufacturing roles.

Jordan, S. S., & Dalrymple, O. O., & Pereira, N. L., & Astatke, Y., & Fletcher, J. (2012, June), Design Swapping as a Method to Improve Design Documentation Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21160

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