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Student Experiences In An Interdisciplinary Studio-Based Design Course: The Role Of Peer Scaffolding

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Design in Engineering Education Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1113.1 - 24.1113.14



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Paper Authors


Bushra Tawfiq Chowdhury Virginia Tech

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Bushra Tawfiq Chowdhury is highly motivated, focused and result oriented individual, pursuing a career which provides a challenging and a dynamic
environment. Holding a Master’s in Information security and having a strong leadership attitude.Takes advantage of communication, organizational, multitasking and technical skills with a diverse work experience involving
academics and in the IT industry. Currently a PhD student in the in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech looking into informal learning and the application of computational thinking

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Stephanie Marie Kusano Virginia Tech

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Stephanie Kusano is a Ph.D. candidate from the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. She received her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering in 2010 and her M.S. in Biomedical Engineering in 2012, both from Virginia Tech. Her research interests include informal learning, design education, and assessment. Her teaching experience has primarily been with first-year engineering workshops.

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Aditya Johri George Mason University Orcid 16x16

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Aditya Johri is an Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Information Technology in the Volgenau School of Engineering, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, USA. He studies the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) for engineering learning and knowledge sharing, with a focus on cognition in informal environments. He is a co-editor of the Cambridge Handbook of Engineering Education Research (CHEER), Cambridge University Press (2014). He can be reached at More information about him is available at:

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Akshay Sharma Virginia Tech, Industrial Design

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Akshay Sharma, an Associate Professor, is passionate about creating thin interfaces in analogue as well as digital media and about using design as a catalyst for the empowerment of women. Currently he is working on projects related to: micro financing with an NGO in India; the use of cell phones for creating a more efficient process in maintaining immunization records for developing countries; and developing a foot measurement system with jaipur foot. He is also working on a new methodology for easier learning of 3D modeling applications for design students. He divides his time between the United States and India.He obtained his BArch from the School of Planning and Architecture in New Delhi and his Master of Science in Design from Arizona State University. Professor Sharma is Chair of the IDSA Design for the Majority Professional Interest Section. He has been involved in doing research on Design for the Bottom of the Pyramid and leads the Industrial Design for Learning and Empowerment courses and study abroad initiatives at Virginia Tech. ID4Learning emcompasses projects focused on financial literacy, collective learning environments and using affordable digital technologies.

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  Peer Scaffolding in Studio CoursesMotivation & Background Alternate models of teaching, beyond traditional classroom-based lectures, are animportant topic in design education. Studio-based methods have been effectively used in designeducation, but can be limited by relatively low scaffolding of student learning. This studyinvestigated studio courses open to undergraduate engineering students pursuing a minor inindustrial design (ID). Using a peer scaffolding framework, this study examines how individualstudents are guided in their design education and learning process through interaction with theirfellow students.Methodology Participants for the study came from a sample of thirty students working on a customer-based project in a studio course, as well as nine students who were developing their sketchingskills in a studio-like sketching course. Students were pursuing different majors such asengineering, industrial design, architecture, business, and liberal arts. Given the limited research in this area, a preliminary qualitative study was conducted inthe summer of 2013 using ethnographically-informed methods. Students and faculty memberswere observed during course meeting times. Seven students were formally interviewed. Dataincluded transcriptions of observations, interviews, and archival data. To ensure trustworthinessof observations and analysis, two researchers wrote notes and observations independently, andthen consulted with each other afterwards. Data analysis was guided using a scaffoldingframework informed by Bruner et al.  Results The results of the study indicate that peers provide an important scaffolding role in studiocourses, particularly studio courses with limited formal assessments. Although students wereworking on individual projects, scaffolding attributes and processes, such as sharedunderstanding, ongoing diagnosis, fading support, demonstration and frustration control wererevealed. The studio environment provided a shared understanding of a collaborative rather thana competitive learning environment. Students were comfortable and willing to share half-formedideas and projects with each other. This was particularly valued by engineering students. Theopen studio structure provided ongoing diagnosis and direction for students. Peers openlyinteracted with each other, critiquing sketches and design ideas, and providing each otherinformation on alternate resources one may seek. Projects and sketches of students were hung inopen spaces. The seamless interaction between peers helped students to overcome theirfrustrations and confusions in courses that offer limited formal assessment.Conclusion & Significance Overall, the studio courses were perceived by the students to be a valuable experience,and peer scaffolding appeared to play an important role in student success. The aspect of peerscaffolding in individual projects offers the insight that all projects in a studio based courses doesnot have to be a team project for aspects of “team work skills” to come into play. This researchhelps identify peer scaffolding characteristics in an innovative engineering learning site thatmoves away from traditional curricular pedagogy.

Chowdhury, B. T., & Kusano, S. M., & Johri, A., & Sharma, A. (2014, June), Student Experiences In An Interdisciplinary Studio-Based Design Course: The Role Of Peer Scaffolding Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23046

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