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How Engineering Educators Use Heuristics When Redesigning an Undergraduate Embedded Systems Course

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Curricular Transformation

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Nicholas D. Fila Iowa State University

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Nicholas D. Fila is a postdoctoral research associate in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Industrial Design at Iowa State University. He earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and a M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Purdue University. His current research interests include innovation, empathy, design thinking, and instructional design heuristics.

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Seda McKIlligan Iowa State University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. McKilligan's research focuses on approaches in the design innovation process, ideation flexibility, investigations of problem-solution spaces, and concept generation and development practices of novices through practitioners. She produces theory, design principles and systems to support design, engineering and educational innovation processes, through studying experiences of individuals and teams that lead to innovative thinking and through integrating that knowledge into organizational change.

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Steven Joseph Abramsky Iowa State University

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Undergraduate Research Assistant in Industrial Design passionate for education and how the simplest decisions can have the most influential impacts

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Heuristics are cognitive strategies used to efficiently achieve an outcome and are used in the daily practice of many disciplines. Understanding the heuristics used by experts can help researchers and practitioners to better understand an activity and develop systems to support the efficacy and development of novices. While heuristics have been well-documented in psychology, industrial design, and engineering disciplines, they are not as thoroughly understood in the field of instructional design, or engineering course design in particular. This study sought to address that gap by using thematic analysis to identify and group the heuristics used by nine educators redesigning a second-year embedded systems course for electrical, computer, and software engineering students. We collected a variety of data, including audio recordings and written notes from team meetings, design artifacts (including final course materials), interviews with team members, and semi-weekly reflections from the course instructor, to explore heuristics from multiple lenses. We identified 22 heuristics, which were further grouped into 6 categories. The paper describes these heuristics and provides concrete examples of how they were used in practice. These findings indicate the prevalence of heuristics for engineering course design and suggests that additional heuristics can be identified across different educational settings.

Fila, N. D., & McKIlligan, S., & Abramsky, S. J. (2018, June), How Engineering Educators Use Heuristics When Redesigning an Undergraduate Embedded Systems Course Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30579

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