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Use Of Research Notebooks By Undergraduate Students

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Design Communications

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.1304.1 - 14.1304.9



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Paper Authors

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Stephen Ekwaro-Osire Texas Tech

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Peter Orono Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Use of Research Notebooks by Undergraduate Students

Abstract Previously, the authors investigated the use of design notebooks as indicators of student participation in team activities. The authors have used design notebooks in freshman design classes and senior capstone design class. It was demonstrated that design notebooks are a good indicator of teamwork practices. The motivation of this study is to enhance creativity in design research by undergraduate students. In order to effectively enhance creativity, tools have to be developed to map it. Here an attempt will be made to differentiate team creativity from individual creativity. Individual creativity here will relate to the process of generating ideas on the basis of learning types and brainstorming techniques. Team creativity will relate to the additional creativity, which is generated through synergy and team dynamics. In this study, the authors extended the use of design notebook used in design project to research notebook used in a research project on the selection of freshman design projects. For the research notebooks, a coding rubric will be constructed that is used describe and quantify the creativity instances that occur in the course of a design research project. The study will involve undergraduate students. Half of the participants had used a design note in freshman engineering design class. At the beginning of the project, the students will be provided with (a) clear instructions on how to document entries in the research notebook, and (b) rubric on the evaluation scheme. The goal will be to make sure that the students understood the expectations for the research notebooks. The research will develop rubric for research notebooks, and will attempt to show that research notebooks can be used as an effective tool to map creativity instances during team activities in a research project on design.


Design notebooks are an essential pedagogical tool in the area of design. In literature they have been shown to be an essential tool for (1) reflection, (2) documentation of the design process, (3) historical archive, (4) course grade, (5) incidental writing tool, and (6) instant assessment of course for instructor. The use of design notebooks as indicators of student participation in team activities has been investigated.1 It was demonstrated that design notebooks are a good indicator of teamwork practices. Design notebooks have also been used to track students’ cognitive patterns in engineering design.2

Well formulated design notebooks have been shown to have pedagogical and cognitive benefits 3. To reap these benefits however, it is very important to teach the students how to complete an effective design notebook 4. Svarovsky and Shaffer 5 used design notebooks in conjunction with design meetings to shed light on the learning processes of undergraduate students during an engineering design course. Seepersad et al. 4 demonstrated that design notebooks were an essential element for effective experiential learning. Essentially, the construction of design notebooks, reflective thinking, and design thinking, takes place in a team environment 6.

Ekwaro-Osire, S., & Orono, P. (2009, June), Use Of Research Notebooks By Undergraduate Students Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5750

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