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Undergraduate Student Learning of Market-Driven Design Topics in a Third-Year Design Course

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

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NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Steven Hoffenson Stevens Institute of Technology (School of Systems & Enterprises)

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Steven Hoffenson is an Assistant Professor in the School of Systems and Enterprises at Stevens Institute of Technology, where he directs the Design of Sustainable Products Across Complex Environments (Design SPACE) Laboratory. His research focuses on design education and training, design for market systems, multi-disciplinary design optimization, and policy modeling and analysis. Dr. Hoffenson holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park, and an M.S.E. and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

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Nicole P. Pitterson Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University Orcid 16x16

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Nicole is an assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. Prior to joining VT, Dr. Pitterson was a postdoctoral scholar at Oregon State University. She holds a PhD in Engineering Education from Purdue University and other degrees in Manufacturing Engineering from Western Illinois University and a B.Sc. in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from the University of Technology, Jamaica. Her research interest is eliciting conceptual understanding of AC circuit concepts using active learning strategies.

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Generally, the focus of undergraduate engineering programs is on the development of technical skills and how they can be applied to design and problem solving. However, research has shown that there is also a need to expose students to business and society factors that influence design in context. This technical bias is reinforced by the available tools for use in engineering education, which are highly focused on ensuring technical feasibility, and a corresponding lack of tools for engineers to explore other design needs. One important contextual area is market systems, where design decisions are made while considering factors such as consumer choice, competitor behavior, and pricing. This study examines student learning throughout a third-year design course that emphasizes market-driven design through project-based activities and assignments, including a custom-made, interactive market simulation tool.

To bridge the gap between market-driven design and engineering education research, this paper explores how students think about and internally organize design concepts before and after learning and practicing market-driven design approaches and tools in the context of an engineering design course. The central research question is: In what ways do student conceptions of product design change after introducing a market-driven design curriculum? In line with the constructivism framework of learning, it is expected that student conceptions of design should evolve to include more market considerations as they learn about and apply market-driven design concepts and techniques to their term projects.

Four different types of data instruments are included in the analysis: Concept maps generated by the students before and after the course, open-ended written reflection assignments at various points in the semester, surveys administered after learning the market simulation tool and at the end of the course, and final project reports in which student teams listed their top 3-5 lessons learned in the course. Using the changes between the pre- and post-course concept maps as the primary metric to represent evolving design conceptions, data from the reflections, surveys, and reports are evaluated to assess their influence on such learning. Because market-driven design is a multi-faceted topic, a market-driven design is hierarchically decomposed into specific sub-topics for these evaluations. These include profitability (which itself encompasses pricing and costs), modeling and simulation, and market research (which encompasses consumers and competition). For each topic, correlation analyses are performed and regression models are fit to assess the significance of different factors on learning. The findings provide evidence regarding the effectiveness of the course’s market-driven design curriculum and activities on influencing student conceptions of design.

Hoffenson, S., & Pitterson, N. P. (2021, July), Undergraduate Student Learning of Market-Driven Design Topics in a Third-Year Design Course Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--37951

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