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How Architecture and Engineering Students Conceptualize Design Creation: Report of a Pilot Study

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Architectural Division Technical Session

Tagged Division

Architectural Engineering

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Paper Authors


Shannon Massie Chance University College London and TU Dublin

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Dr./Prof. Shannon Chance is a licensed architect with 18 years of experience teaching three major subjects: architecture (at Virginia Tech and Hampton University, where she was Professor of Architecture), education (at William and Mary University), and engineering (Technological University Dublin in Ireland where she serves as Lecturer in the School of Multidisciplinary Technologies). Alongside teaching, Shannon earned a Ph.D. in higher education in 2010 and developed a focus on engineering education research through a Fulbright Fellowship and two Marie Curie research fellowships. She is now completing the second of these, working at University College London's Centre for Engineering Education.

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Mike Mimirinis Anglia Ruskin University

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Ines Direito University College London Orcid 16x16


John E. Mitchell University College London

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John E. Mitchell received the B.Eng. degree in electronic and electrical engineering from the Department of Electronic Engineering, University College London (UCL), London, U.K., in 1996 and the Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering, also from UCL, in 2000.
He became a Lecturer with the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, UCL, in 2000, becoming a Senior Lecturer in 2006 and full Professor of Communications Systems Engineering in 2015. He received an MA in Teaching and Learning in Higher and Professional Education in 2016. From April 2012 to April 2016, he was on secondment to the UCL Engineering Faculty as the Director of the Integrated Engineering Programme, a cross-faculty curriculum review and revision of the undergraduate programmes. He is currently Vice-Dean (Eduction) in the UCL Faculty of Engineering Sciences and co-director of the Centre for Engineering Education, a joint central between UCL Engineering and the UCL Institute of Education.
Professor Mitchell is a Chartered Engineer, fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, a member of the IEEE Photonics, Communications, and Education Societies and Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

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Emanuela Tilley University College London

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We are using phenomenographic research methodologies to identify qualitatively different ways engineering and architecture students conceptualize design creation; we also seek to discover if and how their conceptualizations of design creation relate to their conceptualizations of knowledge generation. We intend for this work to extend research by King and Kitchener (1994) and others (Baxter Magolda, 1992; Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger, & Tarule, 1986; Hofer & Pintrich, 2002; Perry, 1970) about the ways students develop increasingly sophisticated ways of: understanding and conceptualizing knowledge; sources of truth; how to evaluate various opinions and points-of-view; and ways to assess truthfulness and validity of new ideas. We suggest that this process manifests itself somewhat differently in fields that deal with physical sciences than in those grounded in the social sciences—the realm where these theories were established and defined. King and Kitchener (1994) have shown that conceptualizations of knowledge vary from one field to the next, yet little if any work has been done to assess and compare patterns of conceptualizations in the fields of architecture and engineering.

Many national regulatory boards urge engineering to change its educational practices to elicit high levels of student engagement and self-directed learning, and achieve outputs more like those associated with architectural education. An extensive report by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (Boyer and Mitgang, 1996) was conducted on behalf of the five organizations regulating the education and practice of architecture in the USA. That report described very high levels of student learning and engagement and recommended that the methods used to teach architecture be transferred for use in more fields. This work will provide additional understanding of this topic, identifying the various concepts that architecture students hold about knowledge and design as well as how these conceptualizations are similar and different to engineering students’ conceptualizations. An outcome of this study will be increased understanding of about aspects, of the learning experience and the learning environment, that capture attention and elicit engagement (and thereby encourage reflection, exploration, and self-directed learning) of students.

This is a work in progress. Our first phase of study has been to run a pilot; in this paper we report the context, rationale, and design of the overall study, as well as results of our pilot test. The pilot is the first step in a study seeking to provide new understandings: (1) spanning multiple professions; (2) identifying the various concepts that architecture and engineering students hold about the generation of new designs; and (3) describing how these conceptualizations compare within and between fields. The study will use phenomenography to identify qualitatively different ways engineering and architecture students conceptualize knowledge and design. To date, we have designed the study, gained approval to proceed from our ethics review board, collected three pilot interviews, adjusted our research design as a result, and gained approval for an ethics amendment to widen our sample group. In this paper, we describe the overall design of the study and what we have learned from the pilot interviews.

Chance, S. M., & Mimirinis, M., & Direito, I., & Mitchell, J. E., & Tilley, E. (2019, June), How Architecture and Engineering Students Conceptualize Design Creation: Report of a Pilot Study Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32891

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