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Novice And Expert Definitions Of Biodesign: Implications For Bioengineering Education

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

BME Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.950.1 - 9.950.18



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Paper Authors

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Paul King

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Joan Walker

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

Expert and novice conceptions of the design process: Developmental differences with implications for educators Joan M.T. Walker1, Paul H. King1, & David S. Cordray2

Biomedical Engineering1 / Psychology and Human Development 2 Vanderbilt University, Nashville TN 37203

Abstract If educators want students to learn to think like experts, then we need to learn how experts think. Addressing this issue, we asked what is “the wisdom” of biodesign (i.e., what are the key concepts)? How do people at different points of professional development define biodesign? Both questions were intended to inform our efforts to establish experiences that support students’ understanding of the design process and professional development. The method we used to answer these questions was concept mapping. A concept map is a spatial representation of ideas and their relationships. To identify key concepts and processes associated with biodesign, we asked 15 experts to construct a map reflecting their definition of the biomedical engineering design process. Findings from this work were used to establish a biodesign taxonomy and benchmarks of expertise. Our taxonomy contained six broad categories: the design process, motivation for the design, interpersonal skills, technical skills, societal concerns, and marketing. We then applied our benchmarks to the maps of 32 undergraduates enrolled in a two-semester senior biodesign course. Students constructed maps at three time points: the first week of the first semester, the end of the first semester, and the end of the second semester. Despite considerable within-group differences, analyses showed areas of stability and change in students’ conceptual understanding. Over time, the expert-novice gap closed in two areas: the design process and motivation for the design. Students made consistently fewer references to ethics and marketing than did experts, but did not differ from experts in the areas of interpersonal skills and technical skills. In addition to their implications for design educators, these findings offer an important avenue for understanding the nature of expertise. That is, they suggest that experts have a more developed understanding of the social context in which a design and designers function.

Introduction Design is a core competence in engineering; however, we have a limited understanding of how expert designers think. To learn more about this, we asked experts in academia and industry, and students enrolled in a biomedical engineering design course to define the biomedical engineering design process. Our purpose was to capture “the wisdom” of design (i.e., key concepts and processes), and reveal how conceptions of the design process may differ according to people’s level of experience and professional development. We had two overarching goals. One goal was to enhance theoretical understanding of the nature of expertise and the design process. Another goal was to enhance engineering educators’ efforts to establish experiences that support students’ understanding of design and professional development.


King, P., & Walker, J. (2004, June), Novice And Expert Definitions Of Biodesign: Implications For Bioengineering Education Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13648

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