June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
June 19, 2019
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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