July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
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, 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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