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Learning from Experiences: Examining Self-Reflection in Engineering Design Courses

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Research on Design Learning

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1066.1 - 26.1066.18



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Paper Authors


Jennifer Wegner University of Michigan College of Engineering

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Jennifer Wegner is an Assistant Director in Engineering Student Affairs at the University of Michigan, with responsibilities including student organization development, leading unit strategic objectives, and supporting university and college co-curricular initiatives. Her teaching and facilitation experiences include a mentorship/leadership course, LeaderShape®, first year seminars, and a university course on social psychology in residence settings. She is a member of the NASPA Center for Women National Board and co-founded the University of Michigan Women in Student Affairs chapter. Jennifer’s research interests include the culture of busy, the intersection of women’s higher education career ascension and professional development, and women’s leadership development. She is currently a doctoral student at New England College and holds her M.Ed. in Higher Education Student Affairs from the University of Vermont and a B.A from Oakland University.

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Stefan M Turcic II University of Michigan

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Stefan Turcic is a recent graduate from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI, where he received his M.A. in Higher Education from the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education. He is an Educational Research Assistant and Program Assistant for the Multidisciplinary Design Program in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan. His research interests include teaching and learning environments, student involvement, higher education management and organizations, and institutional assessment. He also holds a B.S. from Benedictine University in Lisle, IL.

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Gail Hohner University of Michigan

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Gail Hohner is the Managing Director of the Multidisciplinary Design Program in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor, where she develops multidisciplinary engaged learning experiences in the engineering design process. She teaches the seminar in Leadership/Mentorship in Multidisciplinary Engineering Design and her research focuses on the improvements in the pedagogy of engineering design process instruction. She is the 2016 program chair of the DEED division of ASEE. She has a background of 17 years of industrial experience and holds B.S.E in Chemical Engineering and a M.S. in Food Science/Chemical Engineering from Cornell.

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Learning from Experiences: Examining Self-Reflections in Engineering Design CoursesWe assess student reflective learning outcomes during a final Leadership/Mentorship course,after their participation in significant, experiential design projects at a large, public, research-intensive university. Throughout the course, class discussions and assignments prompt studentsto reflect and examine their personal experiences in engineering design projects, their learnings(both technical and professional), leadership, and team styles as well as understand groupdevelopment and dynamics.A feature of the projects is the integration of students from diverse disciplines in engineeringwith other programs such as: Art, Architecture, Primary Sciences, Kinesiology, and Business.The diverse teams provide a rich environment, but also create the complexity of multipleparadigms within the project teams. This course utilizes the construct of Kolb’s ExperientialLearning Model (1984) and Kavanagh’s reflection exercises (Kavanagh, 2008) to promote activereflection on students’ team based engineering design project experiences. The in-classdiscussions and self-reflection based assignments not only help students to more fully understandthe technical aspects of engineering design, but also contribute to a greater understanding ofworking as a team and as competent, adaptive professionals.In a final reflection assignment, students describe self-identified critical moments/milestones intheir development (i.e., including design projects, classes, co-curricular activities, employment,etc.) and how the experience gained from those moments is important to their developments aspracticing professionals, effective mentors, and strong leaders. From these milestones, weidentify common themes and experiences, including the impact on student development.Milestones were identified based on the forum for the experience such as classroom coursework,laboratories, university-sponsored projects, co-curricular activities, student mentorship, andinternship experiences. In addition, we examined each milestone to determine the types ofskills/learning and professional competencies students identified as a result of eachexperience. The results offer a fascinating snapshot of how and where students develop theseskills.We see several themes emerge in the data. Although there is a range of learning opportunitiesthat students identified, the most common milestones originate from students’ courses,extracurricular activities, mentorship opportunities, and group projects. From these milestones,we see a variety of professional skills and competencies identified as significant by the students,of which communication skills, navigating group dynamics, and planning/organization abilitiesare most prominent. Finally, we noticed differences in the proportions of milestones and skillswhen analyzing other factors such as: major, sex, grade point average, citizenship status, andunderrepresented minority status.The results are being utilized to strengthen how we teach engineering design and enhanceengineering pedagogy for others. The results demonstrate the benefit of experiential learningand reflection assignments for students in engineering hands-on design projects and programs.

Wegner, J., & Turcic, S. M., & Hohner, G. (2015, June), Learning from Experiences: Examining Self-Reflection in Engineering Design Courses Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24403

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