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Student Understanding of the Engineering Design Process Using Challenge-based Learning

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Research to Practice: STRAND 1 – Addressing the NGSS: Supporting K-12 Teachers in Engineering Pedagogy and Engineering Science Connections (Part 2)

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1427.1 - 26.1427.19



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Paper Authors


Whitney Gaskins University of Cincinnati

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Dr. Gaskins joined the Engineering Education Department in 2014 as visiting professor. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Cincinnati in 2008. Whitney earned her Masters of Business Administration in Quantitative Analysis from the University of Cincinnati, Lindner College of Business in 2010. She earned her Doctorate of Philosophy in Biomedical Engineering/Engineering Education also from the University of Cincinnati. Her dissertation “Changing the Learning Environment in the College of Engineering and Applied Science: The impact of Educational Training on Future Faculty and Student-Centered Pedagogy on Undergraduate Students” was the first of its kind at the university. Whitney has been recognized by the National Technical Association (NTA) for her novel approach to studying students, specifically underrepresented minorities and women.
Whitney also works with the Emerging Ethnic Engineers (E3) Program. She teaches Calculus 1 during the Summer Bridge program and instructs Cooperative Calculus 1 during the school year.

Continuing with her commitment to community involvement, Whitney has previously served on the National Executive Board for the National Society of Black Engineers, a student-managed organization with more than 30,000 members. She served as the Planning Chairperson for the 2013 Annual Convention and is currently an advisor for the Great Lakes Region.

Dr. Gaskins the Vice-President of the Sigma Omega graduate chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She is also a member of the Society of Women Engineers, the Women’s Alliance, the National Technical Association, The Biomedical Engineering Society and the National Alliance of Black School Educators amongst other activities. She is Deaconess at New Friendship Baptist Church. Whitney was recognized in the 2013 Edition of Who’s Who in Black Cincinnati.

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Anant R. Kukreti University of Cincinnati

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ANANT R. KUKRETI, Ph.D., is Director for Engineering Outreach and Professor in the Department of Biomedical, Chemical and Environmental Engineering at the University of Cincinnati (UC), Cincinnati Ohio, USA. He joined UC on 8/15/00 and before that worked 22 years at University of Oklahoma. He teaches structural mechanics, with research in steel structures, seismic analysis and design, and engineering education. He has won five major university teaching awards, two Professorships, two national ASEE teaching awards, and is internationally recognized in his primary research field.

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Catherine Maltbie University of Cincinnati

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Dr. Cathy Maltbie is a Research Associate jointly appointed at the University of Cincinnati Evaluation Sevices Center and the Arlitt Child & Family Research & Education Center. She has a BS in Chemical Engineering and an EdD in Educational Studies with a concentration in the cognitive and social aspects of instructional practices. Dr. Maltbie has evaluated STEM educational projects and programs since 2000.

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Julie Steimle University of Cincinnati

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Julie Steimle is the Project Director for the Cincinnati Engineering Enhanced Math and Science Program (CEEMS). Prior to that, she ran an outreach tutoring program for K-12 students at the University of Cincinnati. Before joining UC, Ms. Steimle served as the Director of Development and Children's Services at the Literacy Network of Greater Cincinnati. She graduated from Thomas More College with a bachelor's degree in English and Secondary Education.

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Student Understanding of the Engineering Design Process Using Challenge Based LearningResearch has shown that student-centered learning approaches are efficacious in improvingstudent learning. In particular, the challenge based learning (CBL) methodology proposed byApple Computer, Inc., employs a multidisciplinary approach in encouraging students to use theirknowledge and technology to solve real-world problems. In Apple’s 2008 study of CBL,findings showed student engagement among participating ninth and tenth graders was rated at97% or higher and that student involvement peaked where they perceived the solutions theyworked on to be of real value. Students are presented with a challenge that requires them todraw on prior learning, acquire new knowledge, work as a team and use their creativity to arriveat solutions. In most cases, CBL connects students to their community because the problems thatthey are working to solve are real-world problems.In this study conducted in a large metropolitan city, teachers introduced and implemented CBLin the curriculum. One research objective from the study was to teach middle and high schoolstudents the engineering design process (EDP) while solving a real word problem using CBL.The engineering design process is the formulation of a plan to help an engineer build a productor formulate a process with a specified performance goal. EDP involves a number of steps, andparts of the process may need to be repeated many times before production of a final product canbegin. Students were asked to draw their understanding of the engineering design process at theconclusion of the CBL unit. Specifically, we observed the nature of students' misconceptionsand the effects Challenge Based Learning pedagogy has on conceptual understanding of theEngineering Design Process.Important elements of EDP are: 1. Correct terms are used 2. Terms are connected to each other 3. Terms are connected to each other in the correct order 4. Cyclical Representation of EDP is identifiedAt the end of a CBL-EDP curricular Unit taught by a teacher, students were asked to complete aquestionnaire which included a question asking them to illustrating their understanding of theway they implemented EDP in the Unit through a drawing. These drawings were interpreted forthe elements listed above. To date, a four person team of trained scorers used a rubric to scoreEDP drawings from 6 out of 34 teachers (17.6%); this included 518 EDP drawings out of 4545received (11.4%). Individual teachers had differing numbers of students in their classes. Thefour scorers had three training sessions and two scorers rated each drawing. In this paper thetraining of the training of the raters, the evaluation process used by them to score the EDPdrawings made by the students, the results of their findings, and statistical technique used tovalidate the results are presented and discussed. Our inter-rater reliability was 0.90 - 0.94 usingCronbach alpha statistic for each pair of raters.Initial rubric scores indicate that the students can identify the steps in the EDP process andunderstand that they are connected. However, it is found that they are not representing thecyclical nature of EDP and the correct order of the steps. Since these results are a reflection ofthe teachers Unit implementation, we will work with the project team and resource team tosupport professional development for the teachers to improve their CBL and EDP instruction.

Gaskins, W., & Kukreti, A. R., & Maltbie, C., & Steimle, J. (2015, June), Student Understanding of the Engineering Design Process Using Challenge-based Learning Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24764

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