Asee peer logo

Development and Insights from the Measure of Framing Agency

Download Paper |


2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Student Approaches to Problem Solving

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Tagged Topic


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Vanessa Svihla University of New Mexico Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Dr. Vanessa Svihla is a learning scientist and associate professor at the University of New Mexico in the Organization, Information and Learning Sciences program and in the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department. She served as Co-PI on an NSF RET Grant and a USDA NIFA grant, and is currently co-PI on three NSF-funded projects in engineering and computer science education, including a Revolutionizing Engineering Departments project. She was selected as a National Academy of Education / Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow and a 2018 NSF CAREER awardee in engineering education research. Dr. Svihla studies learning in authentic, real world conditions; this includes a two-strand research program focused on (1) authentic assessment, often aided by interactive technology, and (2) design learning, in which she studies engineers designing devices, scientists designing investigations, teachers designing learning experiences and students designing to learn.

visit author page

author page

Amber Gallup University of New Mexico Orcid 16x16


Sung "Pil" Kang University of New Mexico

visit author page

Sung “Pil” Kang is an assistant professor at the University of New Mexico. His academic interests include change management, change model validation, and mindset evolution. He may be reached at

visit author page

Download Paper |


In this research paper, we report on our efforts to shed light on students’ experiences of design problems. To shed light on students’ experiences of design problems, our ongoing work investigates “framing agency,” defined as making consequential decisions about how to frame design problems and proceed in learning and developing solutions. We previously characterized framing agency in design team talk using discourse analysis. The purpose of this study was to develop and test a measure of framing agency. Our prior analysis highlighted that due to a number of factors, students may or may not perceive opportunities to frame problems; framing agency may be individual or shared with others; students may or may not perceive their decisions as consequential; and students may or may not learn as a result of their and their teammates’ decisions. Based on these dimensions, we developed an initial set of 52 items, which we then narrowed further based on expert review. We tested the items with students from three design-focused courses: a first-year course at a southwestern US research university (n=65) and two capstone senior courses (n=53 at the same southwestern research university and n=19 at a northern US research university). We conducted Exploratory Factor Analysis with a promax rotation and calculated Crohbach's Alpha to test internal reliability of related items. After removing low and cross loading items [1], we identified six latent dimensions covered by 18 items: individual consequentiality, shared consequentiality, learning as consequentiality, constrainedness, shared tentativeness / ill-structuredness, and individual tentativeness / ill-structuredness.

Svihla, V., & Gallup, A., & Kang, S. P. (2020, June), Development and Insights from the Measure of Framing Agency Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34442

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2020 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015