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Factors Contributing to the Problem-Solving Heuristics of Civil Engineering Students

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Conference

2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

It's All About the Student: Integration, Problem Solving, Critical Thinking, and Self-Efficacy

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count

18

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/32833

Download Count

7

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Paper Authors

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Sean Lyle Gestson Oregon State University

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Sean Gestson is a recent graduate from the University of Portland where he studied Civil Engineering with a focus in Water Resources and Environmental Engineering. He is currently conducting Engineering Education research while pursuing a doctoral degree in Civil Engineering at Oregon State University. His research interests include problem solving, decision making, and engineering curriculum development.

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Shane A. Brown P.E. Oregon State University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-3669-8407

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Shane Brown is an associate professor and Associate School Head in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Oregon State University. His research interests include conceptual change and situated cognition. He received the NSF CAREER award in 2010 and is working on a study to characterize practicing engineers’ understandings of core engineering concepts. He is a Senior Associate Editor for the Journal of Engineering Education.

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Matthew Stephen Barner Oregon State University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-8581-6708

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M.S. student at Oregon State University working under Dr. Shane Brown.

Research interests include: engineering education, diffusions of innovation, concerns-based adoption model, conceptual change theory, and earthquake engineering.

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Masoud Ghodrat Abadi California State University, Sacramento

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Dr. Masoud Ghodrat Abadi is an assistant professor of transportation engineering in Department of Civil Engineering at California State University, Sacramento. Dr. Abadi’s research interests lie in the areas of active transportation, traffic control, traffic safety, and engineering education. He teaches graduate and undergraduate classes covering topics such as: Traffic Engineering, Engineering Statistics, and Transportation Planning. Dr. Abadi serves as a member of TRB Standing Committee on Transportation Education and Training (ABG20) and ITE Transportation Education Council.

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David S. Hurwitz Oregon State University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-8450-6516

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Dr. David Hurwitz is an Associate Professor of Transportation Engineering in the School of Civil and Construction Engineering at Oregon State University and is the Director of the OSU Driving and Bicycling Simulator Laboratory. Dr. Hurwitz conducts research in transportation engineering, in the areas of traffic operations and safety, and in engineering education, in the areas of conceptual assessment and curriculum adoption.

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Abstract

Problem solving is an important activity for engineering practitioners and studying engineers. For students, this activity is used to learn fundamental engineering concepts that will later be used in engineering practice. Problems often require the interaction and use of multiple types of representations that convey important information to the problem solver. These representations take many forms such as graphs, figures, tables, and other visualizations. Prior engineering education research has focused on how students engage with multiple types of representations; however, little research has looked at why. The reasons why decisions are made during the problem-solving process are related to factors of problem-solving heuristics. Problem solving heuristics act as guides or rules that problem solvers use to navigate the solution process. To address this gap in the research we had 16 undergraduate engineering students solve 3 problems focused on headloss in pipes while their gaze patterns were monitored with eye tracking technology. The three problems included four contextual representations that were used by the students as approaches to solving the problem. Following the problem-solving interview, we conducted semi-structured retrospective interviews supplemented with probing questions from our monitoring of the problem-solving interview. Narrative from the retrospective interviews led to a holistic view of the problem-solving process of engineering students as they described why they chose one representation over another. These methods led to the observation of five problem solving factors that describe the reasons and justifications for using a particular representation. These factors describe important behaviors of the engineering students and problem solvers that can be used to better understand how and why problem-solving decisions are made.

Gestson, S. L., & Brown, S. A., & Barner, M. S., & Ghodrat Abadi, M., & Hurwitz, D. S. (2019, June), Factors Contributing to the Problem-Solving Heuristics of Civil Engineering Students Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. https://peer.asee.org/32833

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