June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
Design in Engineering Education
26.1131.1 - 26.1131.16
A New Framework for Culturally Contextualized Design Sophistication among Engineering StudentsSuccessful engineering education prepares engineering students to be designers who appreciatestakeholders’ cultural contexts and integrate stakeholders and their contexts into designdecisions. Experts consistently point to the importance of the development of the T-Shapedstudent—the engineering student with deep technical knowledge and the intellectual breadth towork across disciplines and settings (AAAS, 2013; ASEE, 2012; ABET, 2011; NAE, 2004).Furthermore, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) emphasizes thatengineering education must prepare students with “the ability to understand the impact ofengineering solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal context (3.h).” Despitethese widespread recommendations, we lack a theoretical framework to understand and assessstudents’ culturally contextualized design sophistication and how learning experiences influencethis progression.We use the term culturally contextualized design to describe culturally relevant, user-centeredengineering design solutions. Culturally contextualized design merges two areas of study—theprocesses by which engineers improve as designers (Dubberly, 2004; Crismond & Adams, 2012;Andrews & Goodson, 1980) and student development theory for intercultural awareness,specifically King and Baxter Magolda’s (2015) Intercultural Maturity Model. Our interest lies inthe intersection of these bodies of work where we seek to understand student levels ofsophistication with regards to integrating cultural contexts in design decision-making.Our research was guided by the following questions: How can we map the development ofengineering students as culturally contextualized designers? How do students’ learningexperiences, design practice, and articulation of their design approaches translate into stages ofdevelopment? What characteristics constitute each level of design sophistication?We collected data from 35 undergraduate and graduate engineering students at a Midwesternresearch university. Through semi-structured interviews, we prompted participants to share theirculturally contextualized design experiences, which included experiences both on and offcampus as well as domestic and international. The interview protocol consisted of three parts:intercultural interactions, design techniques, and the intersection between the two. We conductedseveral open coding cycles for each transcript and identified and reached consensus on threelevels of sophistication: novice, aware, and informed. Additional analysis of specific excerptshelped us determine the unique characteristics of each developmental level. We alsocharacterized five aspects of culturally contextualized design for which we could see evidence ofstudents conceptions at all levels of sophistication: 1) human-centered, 2) collaborative, 3)intentional, 4) open to flexibility and ambiguity, and 5) invested and committed. This paperdescribes the development of our culturally contextualized design framework, including adescription of each level of sophistication for each of the five aspects of culturally contextualizeddesign sophistication and examples of student experiences and reflections that shaped thesedimensions. We also discuss the potential application of this new framework for understandinghow engineering students learn to integrate culture and design and for assessing the impact ofeducational practices.
Sánchez-Parkinson, L., & Daly, S. R., & Holloway, J. P., & Conger, A. J., & Sienko, K. H., & Meadows, L. A. (2015, June), Mapping Student Development in Culturally Contextualized Design Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24468
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