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Factors of Group Design Decision Making

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Working in Teams: ERM Roundtable

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.761.1 - 26.761.14



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Paper Authors


Andrew Jackson Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Andrew Jackson is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Technology Leadership and Innovation in Purdue University's College of Technology. His previous middle school teaching experience informs his role as a graduate teaching assistant for an introductory course in design thinking. His research interests are engineering self-efficacy, creativity, and decision making.

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Nathan Mentzer Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Nathan Mentzer is an assistant professor in the College of Technology with a joint appointment in the College of Education at Purdue University. Hired as a part of the strategic P12 STEM initiative, he prepares Engineering/Technology candidates for teacher licensure. Dr. Mentzer’s educational efforts in pedagogical content knowledge are guided by a research theme centered in student learning of engineering design thinking on the secondary level. Nathan was a former middle and high school technology educator in Montana prior to pursuing a doctoral degree. He was a National Center for Engineering and Technology Education (NCETE) Fellow at Utah State University while pursuing a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction. After graduation he completed a one year appointment with the Center as a postdoctoral researcher.

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Angelika N Zissimopoulos Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Dr. Angelika Zissimopoulos holds a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering From Northwestern University. She is currently an Instructional Developer at the Center for Instructional Excellence at Purdue University and works extensively with course design and faculty development. She also holds a courtesy appointment with the College of Technology.

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Factors of Rationality in Student Design Decision-makingDesign is a decision-making process. Designers make decisions between alternative solutions,decisions about feasibility of individual solutions, decisions about narrowing or broadening theproblem scope. They also make logistical decision about when teams will meet, how decisionswill be made. Recent analysis of high school student design activities revealed that groups andindividuals are not spending much time on decision processes and it can be assumed that thefaculties of beginning college students are in a similar vein. In the past year changes were madeto a freshman level design thinking course to improve student approaches to decision making.Accompanying these changes, the instructors, as researchers, have attempted to understandstudent decision processes in order to improve instruction.This paper will discuss the development of an instrument to help evaluate student decisionpriorities. Understanding and measuring the decision processes among group decisions poseschallenges. Based on an initial review of the literature, an instrument to measure group designdecisions was not identified. Literature was reviewed to identify elements of effective designdecisions as well as useable items from existing instruments. Literature on effective strategies fordecision-making in related fields of study. The survey instrument developed included 16questions about decision processes that related to four proposed latent constructs. Prior toadministration of the instrument, a team of teacher educators and educational researchersprovided feedback on content validity. The survey was administered to 218 students followingreflection on a group design project at the end of the semester.Using exploratory factor analysis (EFA), several results are elucidated. By focusing only onquestions in the survey relevant to decision processes, a nascent model was formed with 13indicators loading on three factors (6, 4, and 4 questions respectively, with one item weaklycross-loading). The model explains 61.814% of the variation in the items and each factor hasstrong internal consistency as measured by Cronbach’s alpha (α = .898, α = .877, and α = .80).The accompanying results also support a new survey instrument for understanding sources ofdesign decision processes revolving around the three factors: processing data, consideringalternatives, and understanding decisions.The model is currently undergoing confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) in a 670 student sample,which will be completed in December 2014. The CFA process may confirm the suggestedmodel as well as evaluate its validity through convergence and discrimination with appropriatemetrics of group behavior. Once confirmed, this model could be used in other environments togauge the ubiquity of these constructs. Regardless of these results however, these findingsprovide focus areas for subsequent instructional design based on student perceptions of groupdecision-making processes.

Jackson, A., & Mentzer, N., & Zissimopoulos, A. N. (2015, June), Factors of Group Design Decision Making Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24098

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: © 2015 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