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High School Students’ Ability to Balance Benefits and Tradeoffs While Engineering Green Buildings

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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

Fundamental: K-12 Students and Engineering Design Practices (Part 1)

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.846.1 - 26.846.8



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Paper Authors


Molly H Goldstein Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Molly Hathaway Goldstein is a Ph.D. student in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University, West Lafayette. She previously worked as an environmental engineer specializing in air quality influencing her focus in engineering design with environmental concerns. Her research interests include how students approach decision making in an engineering design context. She obtained her B.S. in General Engineering and M.S. in Systems and Entrepreneurial Engineering from the University of Illinois.

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Senay Purzer Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Ṣenay Purzer is an Assistant Professor in the School of Engineering Education. She is the recipient of a 2012 NSF CAREER award, which examines how engineering students approach innovation. She serves on the editorial boards of Science Education and the Journal of Pre-College Engineering Education (JPEER). She received a B.S.E with distinction in Engineering in 2009 and a B.S. degree in Physics Education in 1999. Her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees are in Science Education from Arizona State University earned in 2002 and 2008, respectively.

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Mitch Zielinski Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Mitch Zielinski is a fourth-year undergraduate student in the School of Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering at Purdue University, West Lafayette. He plans on pursuing an M.S. in dynamics and control of astronautical systems, but is interested in engineering education research as well.

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Robin Adams Purdue University, West Lafayette

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High School Students’ Ability to Balance Benefits & Tradeoffs while Engineering Green Buildings (Fundamental) AbstractThe ability to balance benefits and tradeoffs is central to engineering and linked to promotingscience learning. In this study we investigate as high school students develop quality designsolutions through balancing benefits and tradeoffs do they engage in explanatory behaviors. Wespecifically examined explanatory behaviors of referring to data, making scientific explanationsand explicitly mentioning balancing benefits and tradeoffs. Data on student design processes andsolutions were collected as students engaged in a project requiring the design of three uniquesolar homes using a computer-aided design software, Energy3D, with built-in energy simulationcapabilities. Students developed three alternative solutions and determined which of their threedesigns they believed best meet the criteria and constraints set by the design challenge. The maindata sources include files of student designs with embedded analysis and electronic notes takenby the students. The quality of individual students solutions are evaluated based on the degree towhich they meet specified criteria (minimizing energy required, minimizing cost, comfortably fita family of four and curb appeal). These results of the presence of explanatory behaviors can beused to evaluate alignment of students’ decisions in selecting an idea for further design andtesting.Data from 44 high school students were collected. Preliminary results, based on the analysis ofdata from 11 students, show that of the 33 design solutions, only seven designs (six students) metall design criteria (annual energy consumption less than 8,000 kWh, building material cost lessthan $5,000, and large enough to be comfortable for a family of four or square footage ofapproximately 185.5m2). Of those that met all design criteria, explanatory behaviors occurred inthe following frequency: six science concepts, three referring to data, and three explicitlymentioning balancing benefits and tradeoffs. Multiple explanatory behaviors could occur in eachdesign. While five of the student design solutions used explanatory behaviors, two did not useexplanatory behaviors in developing quality designs. In the remaining analysis we will reviewthe remaining 33 students (~99 design solutions) and intend to show what role, if any,explanations have in quality design decisions.Keywords: engineering design, high school, idea fluency, experimentation, computer-aideddesign.

Goldstein, M. H., & Purzer, S., & Zielinski, M., & Adams, R. (2015, June), High School Students’ Ability to Balance Benefits and Tradeoffs While Engineering Green Buildings Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24183

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