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Measuring Student's Confidence With Problem Solving In The Engineering Design Classroom

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.402.1 - 3.402.10



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Paper Authors

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Melvin Neville

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David Scott

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Bryan Knodel

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Debra Larson

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2530

Measuring Student’s Confidence with Problem Solving in the Engineering Design Classroom by Debra Larson, David Scott, Melvin Neville, and Bryan Knodel Northern Arizona University, College of Engineering and Technology


The study presented in this paper focuses on the confidence component of problem solving in the undergraduate engineering design classroom. The Problem Solving Inventory was given to students participating in NAU’s Design4Practice sequence of multi-disciplinary design courses. Two semesters of data were collected and analyzed. Year-in-school data compared closely to published trends. Differences in confidence were identified for students that had or hadn’t declared a major within engineering. Of particular interest was the occurrence of team differences in confidence, influenced to some extent, by instructor style.


The teaching of engineering is the teaching of problem solving in its broadest sense. To be an accomplished practitioner, however, students must be able to move beyond solving well- structured, algorithmic-type problems with easily identifiable solution steps. We believe that professional success requires skill and confidence with ambiguous, ill-defined, multi- dimensional problems that are characteristic of engineering design.

Northern Arizona University’s (NAU) College of Engineering and Technology (CET) has developed and implemented a sequence of novel design courses. This through-the-curriculum program, formerly known as the Path to Synthesis, was renamed the Design4Practice program when the freshman level course was fully developed The Design4Practice EGR 486 and added in the Spring of 1997. The Program through-the-four-year courses, as shown in EGR 386 Figure 1, were expressly created to strengthen and expand our students’ design EGR 286 and problem solving skills. Teaching and learning relies on hands-on, mentoring-type EGR 186 experiences and the use of ill-defined, unstructured design projects to build A Traditional Curriculum technical, managerial, professional skills, as well as problem solving competency. Figure 1. Design4Practice Program The Design4Practice program, which took at Northern Arizona University approximately five years to create and fully

Neville, M., & Scott, D., & Knodel, B., & Larson, D. (1998, June), Measuring Student's Confidence With Problem Solving In The Engineering Design Classroom Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/1-2--7276

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