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Troubleshooting Skills for Non-engineers in Technological Jobs

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Technological Literacy and the Non-science College Student

Tagged Division

Technological and Engineering Literacy/Philosophy of Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1379.1 - 25.1379.11



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Paper Authors


Mariana Tafur Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Mariana Tafur has a M.S., education, Los Andes University, Bogota, Colombia; and a
B.S., electrical engineering, Los Andes University, Bogota, Colombia. She is a 2010 Fulbright Fellow. Her research interests include
engineering skills development, STEM for non-engineers adults, motivation in STEM to close the technology literacy gap, and STEM formative assessment.

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Demetra Evangelou Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Demetra Evangelou, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She obtained her B.A. in psychology from Northeastern Illinois University, and a M.Ed. and Ph.D. in education from University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is a member of Sigma Xi Science Honor Society. Evangelou was awarded an NSF CAREER grant in 2009 and a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) in 2011. Evangelou’s current research focuses on engineering thinking, developmental factors in engineering pedagogy, technological literacy, and human-artifact interactions.

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Johannes Strobel Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Johannes Strobel is Director of INSPIRE, Institute for P-12 Engineering Research and Learning and Assistant Professor of engineering education and learning design and technology at Purdue University. NSF and several private foundations fund his research. His research and teaching focuses on policy of P-12 engineering, how to support teachers and students' academic achievements through engineering learning, the measurement and support of change of "habits of mind," particularly in regards to sustainability and the use of cyber-infrastructure to sensitively and resourcefully provide access to and support learning of complexity.

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Troubleshooting Skills for Non-Engineers in Technological JobsAlthough there is an increasingly interest for people to become technological literate, here is atechnical knowledge gap between industry needs and workforce competencies, especially indeveloping countries such Colombia. That is why technology skills are needed to be developedby workforce, engineers and non-engineers who are addressing technical problems.One useful technology skill is troubleshooting. Some studies have addressed how this technicaltool helps to solve a specific technical problem, however those problems are often highlystructured rather than ill-structured, they are more linear than realistic problems are, thereforethose specific problems leave little space for leaning new things.Troubleshooting involves essential elements of the learning process. The constant interactionwith real artifacts, the immediate feedback and need of reflection for diagnosing faults, and theuse of previous knowledge are elements intrinsically integrated to the troubleshooting process.These elements are important characteristics of a learning environment; therefore they may beused not only for specific, structured problems, but also for new constructs and skills, even innew contexts.Because of this potential enrichment elements and characteristics offered in troubleshooting as aproblem-solving tool, the following study examines why troubleshooting may be an effectivetool for non-engineers to learn technical knowledge.ReferencesBransford, J., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (2000a). How Experts Differ form Novices How people learn: Brain, mind, experience and school (pp. 31-50). Washington D.C.: National Academy Press.Chi, M. T. H., Slotta, J. D., & de Leeuw, N. (1994). From Things to Processes: A Theory of Conceptual Change for Learning Science Concepts. Learning and Instruction, 4, 27-43.Csikszentmihalyi, M., Abuhamdeh, S., & Nakamura, J. (1991). Flow The Psychology of Optimal Experience (pp. 598-608).Evangelou, D., Dobbs-Oates, J., Bagiati, A., Liang, S., & Choi, J. Y. (2010). Talking about Artifacts: Preschool Children's Explorations with Sketches, Stories, and Tangible Objects. ECRP, 12. Retrieved from Early Childhood Research & Practice website:, J., & Timperley, H. (2007). The Power of Feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77(1), 81-112.Jonassen, D. H., & Hung, W. (2006). Learning to Troubleshoot: A New Theory-Based Design Architecture. Educational Philosophy Review, 18(1), 77-114.Newman, M. (2003). A Pilot Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis on the Effectiveness of Problem Based Learning. London, UK: Middlesex University.Slavin, R. E. (1980). Cooperative Learning. Review of Educational Research, 50(2), 315-342.

Tafur, M., & Evangelou, D., & Strobel, J. (2012, June), Troubleshooting Skills for Non-engineers in Technological Jobs Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--22136

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