June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
Design in Engineering Education
24.849.1 - 24.849.29
Engineers, Students, and Educators Co-Design Learning Challenges for a Science CenterTo understand how to communicate and engage science center visitors in authentic engineering,we study a unique cross-community collaboration involving educators, engineers from industry,and engineering students to co-design engineering learning activities. We present two casestudies of the design processes with cross-community teams to create and implement designchallenges for a science center’s drop-in engineering tinkering program. Each team collaboratedover a semester to research, brainstorm, design, develop, implement, and refine designchallenges that represent authentic design practices of the team’s industry engineers. The firstteam involved engineering students from an education outreach club along with engineers from asoftware company, and the second team involved engineering students from a product designcourse along with engineers from a sound reinforcement company.Qualitative methods were used to study the teams through pre- and post-surveys; observationsvia video-recording and field notes; and artifacts (e.g. notebooks, write-ups, and presentations).Pre- and post-survey questions covered participants’ background, perceptions of engineering,expectations and contributions, reflections on implementation with visitors, and perceived impactof the experience on themselves as engineers. Observations were conducted during all meetingsof students and engineers. Data from artifacts were triangulated with the survey and meetingdata to create progressions of the design processes, focusing on the development of criteria forthe design challenges, the ideation processes, and the teams’ beliefs about engineering.Following a human-centered design approach, the students and educators first observed similaractivities at other museums and worked with the industry sponsors to identify key features of thedesign challenge. The results indicate that the teams developed explicit and implicit criteria thatguided the design of their challenges, where explicit criteria were identified as features on whichthe whole team agreed and implicit criteria were mentioned in meetings or notebooks, especiallywhile observing visitors in the science center program. In particular, the explicit criteriareflected the general goals of the stakeholders (engineering companies and the science center).On the other hand, the implicit criteria grew to acknowledge visitor learning as a mutual learningexperience, rather than a one-way communication (Davies, 2008), also reflected in the teams’evolving goals. A key takeaway is that in designing these activities, it is important to involve thedesigners with the learners in-situ to help develop these important implicit criteria. The processof identifying criteria also helped to create collective ownership of goals (Bronstein, 2003) thatfostered a smooth and dissent-free ideation process, as the final ideas were selected and refinedwith the agreed-upon criteria.Finally, the teams believed that engineering involves much more than technical skills orintellectual ability, contrary to popular public conceptions of engineering. In the surveys,students and engineers noted that the attributes of good engineers were mostly non-technical,including hardworking, determination, curiosity, willingness to learn, and creativity.Interestingly, no engineers named technical skills as primary differentiators. These attributesalign with Dweck’s (2006) theories of malleable intelligence and growth mindset, underscoringthe need to change the public perception of engineering to show its accessibility.ReferencesBronstein, L. R. (2003). A model for interdisciplinary collaboration. Social Work,48(3), 297-306.Davies, S. R. (2008). Constructing Communication: Talking to Scientists About Talking to the Public. Science Communication, 29(4), 413-434.Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. First Edition. New York, NY: Random House.
Wang, J., & Agogino, A. M. (2014, June), Learning about Learning and Engineering: Engineers, Students, and Educators Co-Design Challenges for a Science Center Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. https://peer.asee.org/20740
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