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Work in Progress: A Case Study Exploring Teaching Strategies Employed in a Cornerstone Engineering Design Course

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Design Thinking and Creativity

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Kevin Calabro University of Maryland, College Park

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Kevin Calabro is Keystone Instructor and Associate Director in the Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland.

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This work in progress paper presents initial findings from the early stages of a case study research effort aimed at providing rich descriptions of the ways in which experienced educators in well-established undergraduate engineering courses enact engineering design curricula and instruction to support student learning / engagement with more informed engineering design practices. This research seeks to also answer questions about how curricula and instruction are adjusted throughout the duration of an engineering design project, and at what timescales, to help students sequence an array of engineering design activities into coherent engineering design practices. Our choice of the word practices is intended to challenge linear, step-by-step engineering design process models. Instead, building on the work of Rouse (2007) and Ford (2015), we believe engineering design occurs when a set of engineering design activities (e.g., problem framing, doing research, generating ideas, modeling, conducting experiments, troubleshooting, etc.) are sequenced and iterated through, thus forming a practice, in ways that makes sense considering the problem at hand. Essentially, the aim for engineering design instruction is for students to be able to engage in an appropriate sequence of activities (i.e., a practice) instead of simply following a predefined sequence of steps (i.e., what Berland et al. (2015) might call “rote performance”). This research effort adopts Crismond and Adams’ (2012) informed design teaching and learning matrix as a theoretical framework for viewing engineering design activities. This matrix provides a crude two level learning progression that describes beginner design approaches versus more informed design approaches through nine patterns of behavior. We use interview, classroom observations, and document analysis to better understand what teaching strategies faculty employ to target each of the nine engineering design patterns or activities. In particular, we seek to provide rich descriptions of how these teaching strategies are employed, when within a course particular design patterns are targeted by instruction, and how these patterns are either sequenced or combined into a practice in an effort to support students in design learning environments. The findings from this research are expected to directly inform engineering design instruction, curriculum development, and professional development efforts.

Calabro, K. (2018, June), Work in Progress: A Case Study Exploring Teaching Strategies Employed in a Cornerstone Engineering Design Course Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31263

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