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Empirically Derived Design Principles For Engineering Educator Resources

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Tricks of the Trade in Research

Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.533.1 - 11.533.13



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Paper Authors


Matt Eliot University of Washington

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Matt Eliot is a doctoral candidate in the Technical Communication department of the University of Washington. His interests include product design, the structure of meaningful product experiences, and human-centered design. He can be reached at

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Roxane Neal University of Washington

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Roxane Neal is a usability engineer and web site designer leading the development of the NEXT web site. She earned her Master's degree in Technical Communication from the University of Washington in December 2005. She can be reached at

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Jennifer Turns University of Washington

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Dr. Jennifer Turns is faculty in the College of Engineering at the University of Washington. Her research interests include engineering education, user-centered design, information design, audience analysis, and the role of technology in learning. Dr. Turns uses a variety of methods for this research including verbal protocol analysis, concept mapping, and ethnography. She earned her Ph.D. from the Georgia Institute of Technology. She can be reached at

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

Empirically Derived Design Principles for Engineering Educator Resources


As a discipline, engineering education is in a time of great innovation. Committed to teaching excellence, educators and researchers have explored issues specific to engineering education and have developed a number of relevant resources. These resources include teaching workshops, one-on-one instructional consultations, online resources, and engineering-specific course materials. In the face of this resource explosion, however, one can wonder about the degree to which some of these products are effective and useful to their intended users. The use of design principles drawn from empirical research with engineering faculty can provide a powerful adjunct to resource design, increasing the potential for relevance, usability, and satisfaction.

User experience researchers investigate the needs and goals of a product’s target audience with the intention of gathering useful information to guide the design process. There are a number of methods by which these researchers frame their findings for designers, including heuristics1, patterns2, and principles3. Design heuristics focus on common issues that users have with a particular type of product and how those issues should be approached. Design patterns often focus on standardized solutions to common problems.

Design principles, on the other hand, are guidelines that address issues surrounding content, form, and interaction behavior. Such principles can be derived from a number of sources: empirical research of the target user group, the designer’s knowledge of the design context, previously published information about the context, and administrative policy. Design principles differ slightly from heuristics and patterns as they are more generalizable and applied to multiple genres of resources.

In this paper, we will first describe an initial set of principles for designing engineering education resources and the data-driven rationale for creating them. We will then present the initial page designs for our current prototype web site for engineering faculty, explaining how these designs instantiate our design principles. The current prototype can be found at

We will also impart the results of our first round of expert evaluation and the relationship between these experts’ feedback and our design principles. We offer the details of our website and the results of our evaluation in order to further explicate the design principles; as a result we will not focus on possible alternative web site designs. The following section describes the empirical research from these design principles were derived.

Eliot, M., & Neal, R., & Turns, J. (2006, June), Empirically Derived Design Principles For Engineering Educator Resources Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1292

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