New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Design has become an integral part of how engineering colleges prepare their students for professional practice. Here we are supporting Crismond and Adams’s idea that it is relevant to facilitate students becoming “informed designers”, which can be described as the designer’s mindset with a level of design expertise that falls between a novice designer and an expert designer (The Informed Design Teaching and Learning Matrix; Crismond & Adams, 2012). Strategies for facilitating this process have been reported previously in the literature with undergraduate students (e.g. Alien Centered design projects), and with high school students (e.g. with design challenges, or using a computer-aided design (CAD) software developed by the Concord Consortium called Energy 3D). Although Energy 3D software has been used in the past for studying individual student’s behaviors while designing by recording what they do when using the tool, and their notes have been also studied, still there is a gap in studying how they approach a similar problem when collaborating in teams, and how much their individual reflections regarding decisions made and trade-off evaluations and evidences change after addressing the task as a team using the Energy 3D software. This study is aiming to fill this gap through the following research question: How First Year Engineering students change their design practices after addressing a design task using Energy 3D in teams? For approaching this research question we studied 10 teams of a design course that is taken by undergraduate engineering students in their first semester at a big mid-western university in the United States. Students in this course were asked to address a simpler design challenge than the one proposed previously in the literature. Here, instead of a complete neighborhood, students were asked to design a home based upon constraints such as cost, types of materials, dimensions, and position of the home relative to the sun. A successful design must meet the following criteria- (a) The total amount of energy that the building uses annually should be equal to or less than the total amount of renewable energy that it generates, (b) minimize total cost of the building (material cost), (c) should be easy to construct, (d) should have an attractive exterior or “curb appeal”, and (e) comfortably fit a 4-person family. Students were required to work first independently, and then as a team in the design problem. They were also asked to record their design rationale in the form reflections, first after working individually in their designs, and later, after creating a final solution as a team in the form of an executive summary.
We will analyze three artifacts - the first reflection, the final reflection and the executive summary. The final reflections and executive summaries were worksheets with specific design thinking related questions/prompts that the students answered after their designs were completed using Energy3D. We examined the reflections and executive summaries using as framework the patterns that distinguish attributes of a beginner designer verses an informed designer to try to determine how students design practices changed after addressing the challenge as a team using the CAD tool. We expected that students who used the tool more intensively show reflections and summaries that are deeper in their explanations than those who did not.
Preliminary findings of artifacts show that students who had high scores in the final deliverable, interacted with more features (e.g. tested different materials, or different shapes for the house) than those who did not used it effectively. This practice aligns with the “Revise/Iterate” design strategy that Crismond and Adams determined to be evidence of informed design. Their individual reflections also show better arguments for explaining their decisions and trade-offs, than those who did not. This represents another design strategy “Weigh Options and Make Decisions” found in the framework. This research potentially lays the groundwork for future modified iterations of executing this assignment that involves a CAD software to enable this particular population to think about tradeoffs, constraints, and the idea that there is no “correct” solution just an optimal solution.
Taleyarkhan, M. R., & Dasgupta, C., & Mendoza-Garcia, J. A., & Magana, A. J., & Purzer, S. (2016, June), Investigating the Impact of an Educational CAD Modeling Tool on Student Design Thinking Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25485
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