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Examining the Influence of Ill- and Well-defined Problems in a First-Year Engineering Design Course

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Conference

2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015

ISBN

978-0-692-50180-1

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

First Year Programs Division Poster Session: The Best Place to Really Talk about First-Year Education

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count

16

Page Numbers

26.705.1 - 26.705.16

DOI

10.18260/p.24042

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/24042

Download Count

84

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Paper Authors

biography

Jessica E S Swenson Tufts Center for Engineering Education and Outreach

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Jessica Swenson is a graduate student at Tufts University. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering with a research focus on engineering education. She received an M.S. from Tufts University in science, technology, engineering, and math education, and a B.S. from Northwestern University in mechanical engineering. Her current research involves examining different types of homework problems in mechanical engineering coursework and the design process of undergraduate students in project-based courses.

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biography

Marya H Schnedeker Center for Engineering Education and Outreach, Tufts University

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Marya Schnedeker is an M.S. student at Tufts University in Human Factors Engineering. Her research focus is instructional design. She is currently researching methods of training novice users on CAD software and 3D printers.

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biography

Sarah Marie Coppola Tufts Center for Engineering Education and Outreach

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Sarah Coppola is a graduate student in Human Factors Engineering at Tufts University. Prior to attending Tufts, Coppola worked as a reliability engineer and completed an AmeriCorps service year teaching in an engineering magnet high school in Paterson, N.J. She draws upon her diverse interests in design, teaching, and social justice in her research work in physical ergonomics and engineering education at the Center for Engineering Education and Outreach (CEEO). Sarah earned a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Design from Northwestern University.

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biography

Leonardo Andres Madariaga Tufts Center for Engineering Education and Outreach / Federico Santa Maria Technical University

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Leonardo Madariaga is a graduate student in the Center for Engineering Education and Outreach (CEEO) at Tufts University (Medford, Mass.). He graduated as a Product Design Engineer in 2006 from Federico Santa Maria Technical University (UTFSM) in Chile. Currently he is an M.S. student in Human Factors Engineering at Tufts.
His primary interest is the generation of physical and digital environments that can foster design and creativity in engineering education. He has seven years of experience in teaching design methods to engineering undergraduates and guiding them in project-based courses at UTFSM in Chile, where he also worked as a product innovation consultant for several small companies.

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Abstract

Understanding Engineering Processes and Practices in a First­Year Course   Cornerstone or first­year courses are designed to excite students about engineering and increase retention. Many of these courses include various types of projects that last anywhere from one class session to the entire term. While most of these courses are designed to engage students and introduce them to engineering, these projects also provide students experience in the processes and practices of solving an engineering problem and begin building a foundation of problem solving skills.   Previous studies of first­year students have examined how students learn the engineering design process by completing a semester­long, client based design project (Saterbak & Volz, 2012; Saterbak & Volz, 2014) and how employing a design­build­test­compete structure to the course affects course grades (Olsen & Washabaugh, 2011). Our own previous work examining different ill­structured projects in a first­year course found during in­class projects completed with short time constraints, students spend a significant portion of their time making and building while very little time brainstorming and clearly defining the problem (citation blinded, 2014). Yet for longer projects completed at home, students spend a much more significant portion of development brainstorming ideas as well as making and iterating on their designs (citation blinded, 2014).  Building on this work, here we examine first­year students working on user­centered design projects as part of their cornerstone courses. The analysis will leverage mixed­methods to examine video data for the students engaging in engineering processes and practices. A list of processes and practices, constructed through literature reviews and revised by engineering professors, will be used to identify discipline­specific skills and practices students use as they design. Preliminary results show students discuss the perspectives of their clients and set constraints based on those clients’ perceived needs and desires. However, there is an observable  tension between producing a product within these constraints and the first­year students existing engineering skillset; within this conflict arises a dynamic iteration of design choices throughout the implementation process. Based on this analysis and understanding the impact of the structure of these assignments on students’ engineering practices, this paper will add to the growing body of literature on first­year engineering course design. The resulting discussion will also inform the design of future activities for first­year cornerstone courses.       References  Saterbak, A. & T. Volz (2012) Assessing Design Capabilities Following a Client­Based Freshman Design Course. Proceedings of the 4th First Year Engineering Experience Conference. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Saterbak, A. & T. Volz (2014) Assessing Knowledge and Application of the Design Process. Proceedings of the American Society of Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition. Indianapolis, IN.  Olsen, L. & P. Washabaugh (2011) Initial Impact of a First­Year Design­Build­Test­Compete Course. Proceedings of the American Society of Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition. 
Vancouver, Canada.  

Swenson, J. E. S., & Schnedeker, M. H., & Coppola, S. M., & Madariaga, L. A. (2015, June), Examining the Influence of Ill- and Well-defined Problems in a First-Year Engineering Design Course Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24042

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