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High School Students as Novice Designers

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Engineering Design in Pedagogy

Tagged Divisions

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering and Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.774.1 - 22.774.17



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Paper Authors


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. 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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Kyungsuk Park Utah State University

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High School Students as Novice DesignersAbstractOur vision is to improve the STEM learning and teaching environment for high school studentsthrough their understanding of engineering design. Engineering employs principles of math andscience to create technologies, thus serving as a STEM integrator. Design is recognized as thecritical element of engineering thinking which differentiates engineering from other problemsolving approaches. The purpose of this exploratory research is to clarify engineering design as aconstruct and perform empirical preparatory research on engineering design as a STEM learningexperience for high school students. This three year project will test the reasonableness ofcomparing high school student engineering design thinking with that of experts and investigatethe feasibility of these research methods by addressing two research questions: 1) How does highschool student engineering design thinking compare to that of experts in terms of engineeringdesign performance and knowledge? and 2) Does student participation in a multiyear sequenceof courses focused on engineering correlate with changes in performance or design knowledge?A triangulation mixed methods design will gather multiple forms of data and utilize quantitativeand qualitative analysis strategies. Three data collection techniques will be employed: theplayground design problem; prioritization of design activities; and reflective interviews.Pilot data has been collected from 16 students in four schools nationally. Methods includinginstrumentation and analysis will be reviewed by an advisory committee of experts before themain data collection (involving 60 students nationally) is conducted in the 2010-2011 schoolyear. Data analysis and dissemination will be conducted in 2011-2012. Results from the pilotstudy will be presented and compared to results from previous work focused on experts. Areas offocus include time allocations across essential elements of the design process, transitionsbetween elements of the design process, generation of alternative solutions, prioritization ofdesign activities and congruence between prioritization and practical application. This researchcan also uncover the elusive cognitive thought processes employed by students as they practiceengineering design thinking and will inform curriculum developers and teachers planningclassroom strategies to improve high school students’ understanding of engineering.

Mentzer, N., & Park, K. (2011, June), High School Students as Novice Designers Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18055

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