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High School Students’ Habits of Mind and Action in Engineering Design

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

High School Students Thinking and Performance

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.692.1 - 25.692.12



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Paper Authors


Matthew D. Lammi North Carolina State University

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Matthew D. Lammi is Assistant Professor of STEM Education.

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Theodore J. Branoff North Carolina State University

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Theodore Branoff is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education at North Carolina State University. A member of ASEE since 1987, he has served as Chair of the Engineering Design Graphics Division of ASEE and as Associate Editor in charge of paper reviews for the Engineering Design Graphics Journal. He is currently President of the International Society for Geometry and Graphics. Branoff’s research interests include spatial visualization in undergraduate students and the effects of online instruction for preparing technology education teachers and engineers. Along with teaching courses in introductory engineering graphics, computer-aided design, descriptive geometry, and instructional design, he has conducted CAD and geometric dimensioning and tolerancing workshops for both high school teachers and local industry.

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High School Students’ Habits of Mind and Action in Engineering DesignRationaleEmploying engineering design in elementary and primary school curricula could potentiallybenefit a broad and diverse group of students whether or not they pursue engineering as a career.It has also been proffered that engineering design has the promise of enhancing and integratingthe science, technology, and mathematics content areas. However, there are many questions yetto be answered regarding engineering design as it pertains to its role in primary and secondaryeducational settings. Some of those questions include: what does engineering design look like K-12? what do the students do and how do they think when working an engineering designproblem?There are different approaches to engage students in engineering design through variouseducational activities. One of those activities is the engineering design challenge. The aim of thisresearch study was to understand and describe high school students’ habits of mind and actionwhile engaged in an engineering design challenge.Methodology and TechniquesThis study included 9 high school-aged participants. The participants worked in various teamsizes (one, two, and four) to work through an engineering design challenge. The participantswere given access to a computer and engineering sketching paper to complete the design.Immediately following the design challenge, the participants participated in a reflectiveinterview.The analysis of this study was carried out through constant comparative analysis of a modifiedverbal protocol analysis. In this research study multiple forms of data were gathered,triangulated, and analyzed. These forms included audio and video recordings of the designchallenge and the interview, computer tracking, and student generated sketches. Inductive aswell as deductive phenomena were thematically analyzed. Concept maps of the students’ designprocesses were also generated and analyzed.Themes and FindingsThrough the qualitative analysis, various results were derived. The results imply that engineeringdesign can be part of a high school engineering curriculum. Comparisons were made between thestudents’ use of problem and solution spaces. The students were able to consider and exploremultiple design alternatives. The students were able to draw upon analogous experiences in lieuof professional expertise to better understand and expand their designs. The students stated andfound the design challenges authentic and relevant to their everyday lives. The results alsoreinforced the importance of scaffolding for engineering concepts and design. Other findingsincluded information gathering with the Internet, student reaction to open-ended problems, andthe complimentary roles of questioning and decision-making. Implications to engineering designcurriculum for K-12 and implications will be discussed.

Lammi, M. D., & Branoff, T. J. (2012, June), High School Students’ Habits of Mind and Action in Engineering Design Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21449

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