June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
Design in Engineering Education
24.1199.1 - 24.1199.13
The Discourse of Design: Examining students’ perceptions of design in multidisciplinary project teamsDesign is a central and distinguishing activity of engineering and one of the core criterion forevaluating and accrediting engineering programs. In today’s globally competitive economy, it ismore important than ever to develop effective design skills within the undergraduate years. Inresponse, and in understanding design as a social activity, design education has receivedincreased attention within the curriculum which has motivated the creation of multidisciplinaryprograms focused on the development of engineering products and solutions. However, eachprogram reflects a unique context with a specific emphasis and scope which impacts thestudents’ understanding of design, and how they negotiate design decisions within the projectteam experience. Therefore, it is important to understand how students in these various contextsperceive and make sense of design, as well as what they believe is relevant and important in adesign project.This paper examines the way students in multidisciplinary project teams discursively managetheir understandings of design and design considerations in different pre-professional contexts.Students from four different multidisciplinary project team programs across four differentuniversities were interviewed about how they relate to their respective programs and theirspecific projects. While these four programs share the fundamental characteristics of beingmulti-disciplinary team-based design courses, the diversity across the institutions also representsthe richness of cultures found within engineering. The authors use a discursive psychologicalapproach to examine these interviews for the way the students discursively manage theirunderstandings of their specific design tasks. This approach enables the researchers to examinediscourse on two levels: “little d” discourse as language-in-use in everyday talk, as well as “bigD” Discourses which refer to systems of language or other sensemaking practices that form oursocial realities. These Discourses inform social practices, such as design, by offering certaindiscursive resources that are evidenced in the “little d” everyday language of participants.Using this approach, the authors investigate the way students negotiate their specific designtasks, as well as what issues they seem to find most salient in their respective projects. Byexamining the interplay between the “big D” Discourses evidenced in the students’ everydaytalk, the researchers examine how individual participants conceive of and relate to designprojects, as well as overarching themes that indicate the way different programs frame and shapeissues of design in these courses. Such an understanding can provide insight into how youngengineers approach design tasks and may give some insight into how they prioritize and makedecisions in a fluid and quickly changing design environment.
Feister, M. K., & Zoltowski, C. B., & Buzzanell, P. M., & Oakes, W. C., & Zhu, Q. (2014, June), The Discourse of Design: Examining Students’ Perceptions of Design in Multidisciplinary Project Teams Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23132
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