Asee peer logo

Engineering Habits of Mind: How EE Majors Talk About Their Knowledge of Circuits

Download Paper |


2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Electrical and Computer Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Nicole P. Pitterson Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Nicole is an assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. Prior to joining the faculty at VT she worked as a postdoctoral scholar at Oregon State University. She holds a PhD in Engineering Education from Purdue University and other degrees in Manufacturing Engineering from Western Illinois University and a B.Sc. in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from the University of Technology, Jamaica. Her research interest is eliciting conceptual understanding of AC circuit concepts using active learning strategies.

visit author page


Natasha Perova-Mello Purdue University, West Lafayette

visit author page

Natasha Perova-Mello is currently a Postdoctoral researcher at Oregon State University in the School of Civil and Construction engineering. She recieved Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Purdue University. She previously worked at the Harvard Graduate School of Education as a Research Assistant focusing on students’ learning algebra and also taught an introductory physics course at Suffolk University, Boston, Mass. Before that, she worked as a Graduate Research Assistant at the Center for Engineering Educational and Outreach at Tufts University, Medford, Mass. Natasha received her M.S. in mathematics, science, technology, and engineering education in 2008, M.S. in electrical engineering in 2005 from Tufts University, and B.S. in electrical engineering from Suffolk University.

visit author page


Ruth A. Streveler Purdue University, West Lafayette

visit author page

Ruth A. Streveler is a Professor in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. Dr. Streveler has been the Principal Investigator or co-Principal Investigator of ten grants funded by the US National Science Foundation. She has published articles in the Journal of Engineering Education and the International Journal of Engineering Education and has contributed to the Cambridge Handbook of Engineering Education Research. She has presented workshops to over 500 engineering faculty on four continents. Dr. Streveler’s primary research interests are investigating students’ understanding of difficult concepts in engineering science and helping engineering faculty conduct rigorous research in engineering education. In 2015, Dr. Streveler was inducted as an ASEE Fellow.

visit author page

Download Paper |


The preparation of future engineers is often characterized as ensuring students possess technical knowledge and the ability to apply that knowledge to solve problems. Researchers often advocate that emphasis is placed on using instructional strategies aimed at improving the way students develop this technical knowledge, and that they are provided opportunities to use it. Also, the goal of engineering and science education is to encourage students to employ various modes of thinking about concepts rather than passively duplicate what they have been exposed to. The purpose of this paper is to highlight the spontaneous habits of mind demonstrated by undergraduate electrical engineering students when asked to explain the phenomena of electric current in basic circuits. Engineering habits of mind are defined as a unique set of values, skills and attitudes associated with engineering depicted by one’s ability to make informed choices when faced with uncertainty in problem solving. The habits of mind framework used to guide this study was first published in the Project 2061 initiative led by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and further developed by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). This exploratory work was guided by the following question: What habits of mind do undergraduate electrical engineering students use when answering conceptual questions about electric current? The data for this study were student interviews conducted using a think aloud protocol. The questions on the protocol were aimed at uncovering students’ conceptual knowledge and possible misconceptions about basic circuit concepts. The findings from this work can potentially address key questions relating to curriculum design in engineering as well as to suggest ways in which teaching in engineering classrooms can be improved for maximum benefit to both instructors and students.

Pitterson, N. P., & Perova-Mello, N., & Streveler, R. A. (2018, June), Engineering Habits of Mind: How EE Majors Talk About Their Knowledge of Circuits Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30410

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: © 2018 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