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Is it Rocket Science or Brain Science? Developing an Instrument to Measure "Engineering Intuition"

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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

ERM Technical Session 12: Creativity and Problem Framing

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Elif Miskioglu Bucknell University

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Dr. Elif Miskioglu is currently an Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at Bucknell University. She graduated from Ohio State University in 2015 with a PhD in Chemical Engineering, and is interested in student learning in engineering. In particular, her work focuses on various aspects of students' development from novice to expert, including development of engineering intuition, as well as critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills.

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Kaela M. Martin Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott

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Kaela Martin is an Assistant Professor of Aerospace Engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott Campus. She graduated from Purdue University with a PhD in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering and is interested in increasing classroom engagement and student learning.

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This theory paper describes the conceptual framework behind the on-going development of a survey-style instrument to assess “engineering intuition.” With the prevalence of computer-aided problem-solving in the modern engineering workplace, it is becoming increasingly essential for professional engineers to be able to quickly and accurately assess the results from simulation or problem-solving software. Subsequently, they need to be able to estimate or predict the outcomes from the software, in addition to responding to real-time events on the job. We characterize this ability to assess and/or predict outcomes as a key feature of “engineering intuition,” a highly desirable but vague and abstract essential engineering skill. Well-developed engineering intuition can have the potential to lead to greater efficiency and innovation in engineering, as well as mitigate adverse events. Engineering intuition should be a highly sought-after professional engineering skill, yet it is not explicitly taught within engineering curricula. Here we present the theory behind the on-going development of our instrument, including the importance of intuition in development of discipline-specific expertise, specific significance of engineering intuition in the modern workforce, hypotheses regarding related constructs, and assessment of responses to intuition-engaging engineering problems. We also describe the future intentions of this project, including validity and reliability testing of the instrument and subsequent application studies.

Miskioglu, E., & Martin, K. M. (2019, June), Is it Rocket Science or Brain Science? Developing an Instrument to Measure "Engineering Intuition" Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33027

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