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Improving Engineering Design Education: A Relational Skill Task Model

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Capstone Design Pedagogy II

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.694.1 - 15.694.15



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Paper Authors

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Noe Vargas Hernandez The University of Texas at El Paso

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Jose Davila University of Texas, El Paso

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

1 Introduction

Engineering design is defined as a complex cognitive activity in which the main objective is to change from a current to a desired status, through a planned and organized process that involve: multiple disciplines, social collaboration, open-ended solutions, technical knowledge and advanced skills. Our mission as educators is to cultivate design skills and abilities in our students to achieve the highest competency, but design methodologies can be difficult to implement pedagogically, therefore the student struggles to learn, and develop design skills.

The objective of this paper is to propose a model to improve the engineering design education experience by building a prescriptive relation between a desired skill to develop in the student and a specific didactical task to be performed by the teacher. We do this by analyzing the knowledge and skills to be acquired by the student, understanding the theories behind education, searching for related art on this field and proposing a generic model. The paper is arranged in three parts, first a general background covering engineering design and education, followed by an analysis of the state of the art describing the problem, and third, our proposal to improve the educational method.

2 Background 2.1 Taxonomies

Taxonomy is a classification which helps to identify and differentiate subjects based on their characteristics. One of the most influential taxonomies within the educational field is Bloom’s “Taxonomy of Educational Objectives”2 and its cognitive domain is focused on the recognition of knowledge and the development of intellectual skills based on a constructivist model that organizes the knowledge by level of difficulty, with the purpose of providing a framework for educators to set learning objectives in their academia. Since then many improvements and criticisms have been made to this document; a resent evolution of it is Marzano’s “New Taxonomy”12 who proposes a hierarchy model in terms of control and not in terms of complexity which has been proven by psychology researches to be only a temporary state on the learner upon the familiarity of the activity, this means that the new taxonomy is able to represent the learning activity as a duality of process and state, instead of only as state as Bloom proposed. Marzano’s taxonomy is a two-dimensional model as represented in Figure 1; one of the axes is the hierarchy of “thinking systems” or levels of processing and on the other axis the “domains of knowledge”.

Vargas Hernandez, N., & Davila, J. (2010, June), Improving Engineering Design Education: A Relational Skill Task Model Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16697

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