June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
Biological & Agricultural
12.1005.1 - 12.1005.8
Leading and Assessing a First-Semester Team Design Project
Students are known to be motivated by course activities that are relevant to their careers. Design projects offer this type of real-life experience. This paper describes implementation and assessment of a design project that was adapted to a first-semester course that included both biological and agricultural engineering (BAE) and agricultural technology management (ATM) students. The project provided opportunity for experiential learning that engaged students, provided essential problem solving and teamwork skills, and assessed their learning about the design process. Students prepared a functional layout design for one of the BAE/ATM student spaces within Seaton Hall. The development of the layout design followed the design process, culminating in a presentation to the client (Department Head) and other constituents. Students were assessed using self-assessment, assessment of the presentation, and a short-answer exam. Results were classified according to seven elements of the design process: 1) teamwork, 2) information gathering, 3) problem definition, 4) idea generation, 5) evaluation and decision making, 6) implementation, and 7) communication. Students appeared to learn in proportion to their perceived level of class emphasis in the problem definition element and the teamwork element. Higher levels of understanding were demonstrated in the communication element and the information gathering element despite a perceived lesser class emphasis. Further work is needed to control for student knowledge of the design process elements when entering the class.
Engineering design and development of student design skills are receiving increased attention as critical elements in engineering education, countering the established trend of focusing on education of the engineering sciences1. Methods to teach the engineering process require a breadth of instructional methods, classroom environments, and assignment types. However, little research has been conducted to compare the effectiveness of these methods for engineering design instruction1. A recent study confirmed that students are motivated by classroom environments that incorporate interaction and discussion (particularly higher-GPA students) and hands-on activities (particularly lower-GPA students) and assignments that demonstrate a clear connection to their profession6. While there is no one “right way” to teach the design process, it is clear that the creative learning required for engineering design requires creative instructional methods. In addition, it is essential that these methods be assessed to enhance the understanding of strengths and weaknesses of various instructional methods7.
The objectives of this study were (a) to assess student learning outcomes of the design process and (b) to provide feedback about the effectiveness of a first-year design project and supporting course activities in leading to those outcomes.
Course and Design Project Description
The class consisted of two lab sections with 22-23 students each. Characteristics of the class sections are summarized in Table 1. Teams were selected by an in-class process, whereby
Mankin, K. (2007, June), Leading And Assessing A First Semester Team Design Project Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2815
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