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Engineering Faculty’s Beliefs About Teaching and Solving Ill-structured Problems

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Industry and Practice Topics

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count

12

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/37062

Download Count

46

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Paper Authors

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Secil Akinci-Ceylan Iowa State University of Science and Technology

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Secil Akinci-Ceylan is a PhD student in Educational Technology in the School of Education, co-majoring in Human-Computer Interaction at Iowa State University.

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Yiqi Liang Iowa State University of Science and Technology

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Yiqi Liang is a PhD student in Aerospace Engineering in the College of Engineering at Iowa State University.

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Kristen Sara Cetin P.E. Michigan State University

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Dr. Kristen S Cetin is an Assistant Professor at Michigan State University in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

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Benjamin Ahn Iowa State University of Science and Technology

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Dr. Benjamin Ahn is an Assistant Professor at Iowa State University in the Department of Aerospace Engineering.

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Bora Cetin

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Associate Professor in the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering

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Abstract

Problem solving is an essential part of engineering. Research shows that students are not exposed to ill-structured problems in the engineering classrooms as much as well-structured problems and do not feel as confident and comfortable solving them. There have been several studies on how engineering students solve and perceive ill-structured problems, however, understanding engineering faculty’s perceptions of teaching and solving such problems is important as well. Since it is the engineering faculty who teach students how to approach engineering problems, it is essential to understand how they perceive solving and teaching of these problems. The following research question has guided this research: What beliefs do engineering faculty have about teaching and solving ill-structured problems? Ten tenure-track or tenured faculty in civil engineering from various universities across the U.S. were interviewed after solving an ill-structured engineering problem. Their responses were transcribed and coded. The findings suggest that faculty generally preferred to teach both well-structured and ill-structured problems in their courses. They also acknowledge the advantages of ill-structured problems, in that they promote critical thinking, require creativity, and are more challenging. However, the results showed that some are less likely to use ill-structured problems in their teaching compared to well-structured problems. We also found that faculty became more comfortable teaching ill-structured problems as they gain more experience in teaching these types of problems. Faculty’s responses showed that while they solve ill-structured problems as part of their research on a regular basis, some faculty do not integrate these problems in the classes that they teach. These results indicate that although faculty recognize the importance of using ill-structured problems while teaching, the lack of experience with teaching these problems, other faculty responsibilities, and the complex nature of these problems make it challenging for engineering faculty to incorporate these problems into the engineering classroom. Based on these findings, in order to improve faculty’s comfort and willingness to use ill-structured problems in their teaching, recommendations for faculty are provided in the paper.

Akinci-Ceylan, S., & Liang, Y., & Cetin, K. S., & Ahn, B., & Cetin, B. (2021, July), Engineering Faculty’s Beliefs About Teaching and Solving Ill-structured Problems Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37062

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