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Using Design Process Timelines to Teach Design: Implementing Research Results

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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

26.1662.1 - 26.1662.31



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Paper Authors


Cynthia J. Atman University of Washington

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Cynthia J. Atman is the founding director of the Center for Engineering Learning & Teaching (CELT), a professor in Human Centered Design & Engineering, and the inaugural holder of the Mitchell T. & Lella Blanche Bowie Endowed Chair at the University of Washington. Dr. Atman is co-director of the newly-formed Consortium for Promoting Reflection in Engineering Education (CPREE), funded by a $4.4 million grant from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. She was director of the NSF-funded Center for the Advancement of Engineering Education (CAEE), a national research center that was funded from 2003-2010. Dr. Atman is the author or co-author on over 115 archival publications. She has been invited to give many keynote addresses, including a Distinguished Lecture at the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) 2014 Annual Conference.

Dr. Atman joined the UW in 1998 after seven years on the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research focuses on engineering education pedagogy, engineering design learning, assessing the consideration of context in engineering design, and understanding undergraduate engineering student pathways. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the ASEE. She was the recipient of the 2002 ASEE Chester F. Carlson Award for Innovation in Engineering Education and the 2009 UW David B. Thorud Leadership Award. Dr. Atman holds a Ph.D. in Engineering and Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University.

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Janet McDonnell Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London

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Janet McDonnell is Professor of Design Studies at Central Saint Martins, London where she is Director of Research. She holds a PhD for work on modelling engineering design expertise, an MSc in Computer Science and a BSc in Electrical Engineering. She is the editor-in-chief of the International Journal of CoDesign.

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Ryan C. Campbell University of Washington

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Ryan is a Ph.D. candidate in the University of Washington's interdisciplinary Individual Ph.D. Program and a research assistant at the UW Center for Engineering Learning and Teaching (CELT). His research interests include: engineering education, ethics, humanitarian engineering, and computer modeling of electric power and renewable energy systems.

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Jim L Borgford-Parnell University of Washington Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Jim Borgford-Parnell is Associate Director and Instructional Consultant at the Center for Engineering Learning & Teaching at the University of Washington. He taught design, education-research methods, and adult and higher education theory and pedagogy courses for over 30 years. He has been involved in instructional development for 18 years, and currently does both research and instructional development in engineering education. Jim has taught courses on the development of reflective teaching practices, and has presented workshops on learning how to learn and developing metacognitive awareness. He has published and presented on engineering design, engineering pedagogies, and instructional development topics.

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Jennifer A Turns University of Washington

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Using Design Process Timelines to Teach Design: Implementing Research ResultsWhile design has been increasingly taught in engineering courses over the last decade, there arestill many opportunities to improve the effectiveness of design learning. This paper presents theresults of several attempts to use empirically based design process timelines as the basis ofteaching undergraduate engineering students about the design process. Design process timelinesare graphical representations that display how an individual allocates time across a set of designactivities as they engage in a design process. These representations, constructed with data fromindividuals with varying levels of design expertise, present salient information about howindividual design processes can differ. We have developed a series of tasks based on theserepresentations whose purpose is to teach students about the design process, and we implementedthem with eight undergraduate engineering students in two separate research seminars at a largestate institution.Specifically, in these tasks students were presented with design timelines and the empirically-based codes that were used to construct the timelines and were asked to develop newrepresentations from that data. They were then asked to execute a design task, capture their owndesign process, and then create a representation of their personal design process. Finally, at theend of a quarter that included the above tasks plus tasks to consider additional design issues suchas context and perspective, students were asked to create a “memory aid” to capture importantaspects of the design process that they wish to take with them to their next design experiences.In this paper we present the work that the students turned in for the design projects as well as theresults of several pre/post questions on design processes. We also present a mapping of thestudents’ work to the elements of the design process presented to them in the design timelines todetermine the impact of the use of the timelines to teach design.

Atman, C. J., & McDonnell, J., & Campbell, R. C., & Borgford-Parnell, J. L., & Turns, J. A. (2015, June), Using Design Process Timelines to Teach Design: Implementing Research Results Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24998

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