June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
Design in Engineering Education
26.1425.1 - 26.1425.12
Student Perspectives on Capstone Design LearningCapstone courses represent a critical juncture in engineering students’ careers. Whilemuch of an undergraduate engineering curriculum tends to focus on technical content,capstone courses mimic authentic engineering design experiences, in which studentsoften have opportunities to address realistic open-ended projects and interact with realclients and industry professionals. Further, in many programs capstone courses play acritical role in developing professional skills necessary for effective engineering practice,including project management, communication, and collaboration. Reports by severalresearchers indicate that capstone faculty treat such professional skills as central learningoutcomes. However, few studies have sought to explore student perspectives on thelearning that occurs in these project-based environments. To address this gap and broadenour understanding of student experiences in capstone design, we ask: How do students incapstone courses describe their learning gains?To address this question, we present findings from a larger multi-case study of capstoneteaching and learning. The full data set for each case includes classroom observations,faculty interviews, and student interviews gathered at multiple points in time across thecapstone experience; this paper focuses specifically on data from student interviews andfocus groups. These interviews explored students’ perceptions of capstone design,including their experiences with mentors, the challenges they faced, their beliefs aboutwhat they learned, and their perceived level of preparation for the future. Interviews wereaudio recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed using an open coding process.Preliminary findings suggest that students perceive a wide range of both technical andprofessional learning gains, many of which align with intended course outcomes. Overall,six salient themes emerged in students’ discussion of their learning: 1) development of anengineering identity; 2) knowledge of the design process; 3) connections to the “realworld”; 4) project management; 5) self-directed learning; and 6) teamwork skills.Analysis of learning in capstone design suggest that although critical contextualboundaries between engineering school and engineering practice may be present, studentsrecognize the relevance of the experience more generally. This research improvesunderstanding of the processes by which student learning outcomes are achieved incapstone design courses.
Lutz, B. D., & Ekoniak, M., & Paretti, M. C., & Smith-Orr, C. S. (2015, June), Student Perspectives on Capstone Design Learning Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24762
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