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Students and Engineering Educators' Feedback on Design

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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 on Design Learning

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1430.1 - 26.1430.10



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Paper Authors


Farshid Marbouti Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Farshid Marbouti is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Engineering Education at Purdue University. His research interest is first-year engineering and specifically how to improve first-year engineering students' success. He completed his M.A. in the Educational Technology and Learning Design at Simon Fraser University in Canada, and his B.S. and M.S. in computer engineering in Iran.

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Heidi A. Diefes-Dux Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Heidi A. Diefes-Dux is a Professor in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She received her B.S. and M.S. in Food Science from Cornell University and her Ph.D. in Food Process Engineering from the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Purdue University. She is a member of Purdue’s Teaching Academy. Since 1999, she has been a faculty member within the First-Year Engineering Program, teaching and guiding the design of one of the required first-year engineering courses that engages students in open-ended problem solving and design. Her research focuses on the development, implementation, and assessment of modeling and design activities with authentic engineering contexts. She is currently a member of the educational team for the Network for Computational Nanotechnology (NCN).

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Monica E Cardella Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Students and Engineering Educators Feedback on DesignDesign is recognized as essential for engineering practice and therefore a critical component ofengineering education. Students first begin to develop design skills while they are also learningengineering content and how to apply it in authentic contexts. Design has been described as acreative endeavor, which allows the designer to synthesize and apply knowledge, as a learningprocess, as a co-evolution of problem and solution spaces, and as an emergent, opportunistic,reflective, risky, and important human endeavor. Much research has been conducted to try tounderstand design practices and highlight the differences between novices and experts.Giving feedback is an important skill for engineering professionals both in industry andacademia. In engineering education, this skill is linked to the fulfillment of multiple studentoutcomes, particularly those related to problem solving, design, communication, andprofessionalism. Feedback provides a means for thinking deeply about someone else’s work,reflecting on one’s own work, and receiving and interpreting criticism. Although an ability toprovide high quality feedback is an important skill in engineering, it is lacking amongengineering professionals, engineering educators, researchers, and students.A holistic and generalizable theory to explain levels of engineering design feedback skilldevelopment from novice to expert would enable more effective development of pedagogy andassessment tools regarding feedback, benefiting both students and engineering educators. Todevelop this theory, we build on our prior and current research efforts related to characterizingstudents’ design processes, feedback on open-ended mathematical modeling activities toinvestigate novice and expert feedback on sample design work.In the current study, 15 engineering educators (course instructors and graduate teachingassistants) were asked to provide written feedback on a sample student design work consisting offour milestones. In addition, 120 first-year engineering students were asked to provide feedbackon the same sample design work (as part of a first-year engineering course). Only 15 studentshad prior design experience. These 15 students were selected for this study. In addition, 15students without design experience were randomly selected for this study (30 students in total).We developed a coding scheme to analyze engineering educators and students’ feedback on thesample design work. The coding scheme has three domains (with three or four codes in eachdomain) including: Substance (Communication, Design Concept, Design Idea, No Code),Specificity (Generic, Semi-Specific, Specific), and Focus of Feedback (Strengths, Neutral,Weaknesses). We characterized educators and students’ feedback and highlighted the similaritiesand differences between the feedback provided by them.On average, educators provided more comments than the students. Educators’ comments werealso longer (i.e., more elaborated). Educators provided more comments on Design Ideas specificto the design problem than the students. In addition, educators asked more thought provokingquestions while most students’ comments gave specific instructions. Both educators and students’comments were focused on the weaknesses of the sample design work; few students mentionedstrengths of the design in their comments. Based on these results we are currently developingactivities for students and educators to learn give more effective feedback on design.

Marbouti, F., & Diefes-Dux, H. A., & Cardella, M. E. (2015, June), Students and Engineering Educators' Feedback on Design Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24767

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2015 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015