Asee peer logo

Development Of An Online Textbook And Research Tool For Freshman Engineering Design

Download Paper |


2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

The Critical First Year in Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.527.1 - 12.527.14



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Linda Lindsley Arizona State University

author page

Veronica Burrows Arizona State University

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Development of an Online Textbook and Research Tool for Freshman Engineering Design


In many engineering design texts, the solution(s) to design problems are provided along with the proposed problem. Therefore, the student will read about the solution rather than take the time to think about the problem being presented. This paper explores the development of and pilot study done on an online textbook and research tool, based on the book, “How to Model It,” by Starfield, Smith and Bleloch.1 With this online system, students are able to read only a portion of the text, and then must complete one or more tasks related to the modeling problem, then submit a response to the system. Their responses are captured and available for their review (but cannot be changed). Once their response is submitted, they can then proceed to read subsequent text where they might, for example, compare their responses with ‘expert’ design methods for that problem. Through this approach, students are forced to begin practicing the engineering design process, rather than simply reading about someone else’s solution to the problem. This format allows engineering design instructors to look at the effectiveness of their teaching methods on student design learning in such areas as heuristics, problem definition, etc. Besides allowing instructors to assess their students’ design learning process, the ‘online book’ generates data of potential interest for research on design learning. For research purposes, videotapes of the input process have been used to determine the amount of information, if any, lost during the participants’ solving of the design problem on the computer (i.e., discussion of ideas not presented in the input response). The video data has shown that most ideas, heuristics, methods, etc. discussed by the students during the exercise are included in the data input as responses into the system, making this a useful tool to research student learning. Currently, the data produced using the online text is being compared to the same problems completed using more traditional methods (i.e., paper and pencil, followed by a computer report). We expect to find little difference in the data provided by these methods.

Introduction Design process learning is a field of much recent interest in the engineering education community. Many approaches have been used to examine the ways people use the engineering design process. One of these methods, verbal protocol analysis2 produces very detailed information on a student’s design process thinking through the ‘talking-out-loud’ method. This type of analysis is extremely time-consuming, which severely restricts the number of subjects that can be included in any sample. Another method, analysis of student design journals, has also been used for analysis of the design process,3 but unless regularly monitored for content, journals may not provide detailed information about the students’ day-to-day design learning. Both of these approaches look at vital aspects of engineering design learning, but due to the time considerations for data processing and the desire to have continuous monitoring of students’ design learning, neither of these methods allow for frequent glimpses at student learning over the course of a semester.

In addition to our research interests in engineering design learning, we are also interested in the pedagogy of engineering instruction. In many engineering design texts, the solution(s) to design

Lindsley, L., & Burrows, V. (2007, June), Development Of An Online Textbook And Research Tool For Freshman Engineering Design Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1892

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: © 2007 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