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WIP: Assessing Baseline Systems Thinking in an Introductory Engineering Design Course

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Systems Engineering Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Systems Engineering

Page Count

12

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/38069

Download Count

72

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Paper Authors

biography

John Alexander Mendoza-Garcia University of Florida Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-4943-6222

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John Mendoza Garcia is an Instructional Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering Education in the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering at the University of Florida. He received his Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Purdue University, and his Master's and Bachelor's in Systems and Computing Engineering from Universidad de Los Andes, in Colombia, and Universidad Nacional de Colombia respectively. He teaches professional skills like systems thinking, and design thinking. Dr. Mendoza-Garcia's research interests include investigating how to nurture in students these skills. He also worked in Industry before transitioning to academia.

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Andrea Goncher University of Florida

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Andrea Goncher is a Lecturer in Engineering Education at the University of Florida. She earned her PhD in Engineering Education and has worked in international engineering education contexts. She focuses on teaching and learning projects in human centred design, sustainability, and systems thinking. Her research interests include text analytics, international higher education, and engineering design education.

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Mengyu Li University of Florida

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Mengyu Li is an Instructional Assistant Professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) at the University of Florida (UF). She teaches numerous undergraduate and graduate level ISE courses, including: Supply Chain Management, Senior Design Project, Systems Design, and Systems Architecture. She has also received the UF Rising Star Award in 2021 for her commitment to ongoing educational improvements and excellence.

Prior to her current position, Mengyu worked as a product developer at a manufacturing company, where she was able to apply ISE principles and knowledges in an industrial setting. This work resulted in her receiving numerous awards for her accomplishments. Dr. Li has expertise in systems engineering and sustainability with applications through senior design education. Her research focuses on teaching systems thinking and sustainable design in team-based engineering design courses.
Mengyu Li is an Instructional Assistant Professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) at the University of Florida (UF). She teaches numerous undergraduate and graduate level ISE courses, including: Supply Chain Management, Senior Design Project, Systems Design, and Systems Architecture. She has also received the UF Rising Star Award in 2021 for her commitment to ongoing educational improvements and excellence.

Prior to her current position, Mengyu worked as a product developer at a manufacturing company, where she was able to apply ISE principles and knowledge in an industrial setting. This work resulted in her receiving numerous awards for her accomplishments. Dr. Li has expertise in systems engineering and sustainability with applications through senior design education. Her research focuses on teaching systems thinking and sustainable design in team-based engineering design courses.

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Abstract

ABET is requiring that engineering graduates can deal with complex engineering problems, and that their engineering design solutions meet the needs of stakeholders at different levels, from direct users to regulation entities. Systems thinking is a skill that can facilitate student’s achievement of such goals. Therefore, for fostering the development of such skill, it is crucial to properly assess students’ learning progression to be able to develop effective strategies to move them forward. However, the literature on assessment of systems thinking in engineering is still scarce.

The aim of our study is to assess student learning associated with system thinking skills from university undergraduate and graduate programs. The work presented in this WIP paper evaluates a peer-reviewed and published assessment tool using data collected from an introductory engineering design course. The goal was was to determine if the assessment tool could be used with different contexts and students than the ones in the original study. In this case, the context is an introductory engineering course focused on designing for end-users in community contexts.

Study participants completed an activity proposed by the assessment tool that focuses on systems thinking and problem-solving as engineers by responding to a scenario that addressed technical and social contexts. The activity focuses on students’ responses to a given scenario and the prompts intended to guide respondents in a systems-thinking approach. Data was collected electronically and analyzed using qualitative coding methods. We applied the assessment tool rubric to evaluate student responses using systems thinking constructs from the framework.

Participant responses show that most students can identify the technical and contextual constructs related to the scenario, but had trouble identifying (or explicating in their responses) the interactions of various constructs at some level of complexity. We also found that the rubric guidelines did might not provide the needed granularity for the baseline thinking. Modification of the rubric may be required to assess students’ system thinking at the baseline level.

This study will lay the foundation of new development of teaching content that focuses on systems thinking skills by providing a solid understanding of the current systems thinking skill baseline level among university engineering students.

Mendoza-Garcia, J. A., & Goncher, A., & Li, M. (2021, July), WIP: Assessing Baseline Systems Thinking in an Introductory Engineering Design Course Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/38069

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