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Work in Progress: A Preliminary Investigation of the Ways Engineering Students Experience Innovation

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Works in Progress: Learning and Engagement

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Nicholas D. Fila Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Nicholas D. Fila is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. He earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and a M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His current research interests include innovation, empathy, and engineering design.

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Senay Purzer Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Ṣenay Purzer is an Associate Professor in the School of Engineering Education. Her research examines how engineering students approach innovation. She also studies informed design practices among college and pre-college students . She serves on the editorial boards of Science Education and the Journal of Pre-College Engineering Education (JPEER).

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Engineering educators strive to improve students’ abilities to contribute to innovative products, processes, and systems. However, innovation is a complex phenomenon that spans a variety of disciplines and can be affected by a variety context-dependent variables. This work in progress presents an ongoing study that employs a phenomenographic approach to explore variation in how engineering students experience innovation. Semi-structured phenomenographic interviews were conducted with 33 undergraduate engineering students from a research university in the midwestern United States. These participants were selected to maximize variation in engineering project experience, academic discipline, year in school, gender, and nationality. Iterative, empathetic, and inductive data analysis is currently informing the development of categories that describe unique ways individual students had of experiencing innovation as well as the structural relationships between these categories. This paper presents an intermediate version of the results as a critical step in the analysis process. Presenting these results to a diverse group of educators and researchers, especially those outside the educational context in which the study took place, can elicit critical feedback that may inform new ways of interpreting the data and results. Eventually, the results of this study may suggest pedagogical activities that are beneficial in learning innovation, describe learning progressions, and provide a knowledgebase to aid the development improved assessments on the topic of innovation in engineering.

Fila, N. D., & Purzer, S. (2016, June), Work in Progress: A Preliminary Investigation of the Ways Engineering Students Experience Innovation Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27209

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