Asee peer logo

Work In Progress: Assessing Students' Changing Conceptions of Design

Download Paper |


2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

DEED Postcard Session 1

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Molly H. Goldstein Purdue University, West Lafayette (College of Engineering) Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Molly Goldstein is a Ph.D. Candidate in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University, West Lafayette with a research focus on characterizing behaviors in student designers. She previously worked as an environmental engineer specializing in air quality influencing her focus in engineering design with environmental concerns. She earned her B.S. in General Engineering (Systems Engineering & Design) and M.S. in Systems and Entrepreneurial Engineering from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.

visit author page


Robin Adams Purdue University, West Lafayette (College of Engineering)

visit author page

Robin S. Adams is an Associate Professor in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University and holds a PhD in Education, an MS in Materials Science and Engineering, and a BS in Mechanical Engineering. She researches cross-disciplinarity ways of thinking, acting and being; design learning; and engineering education transformation.

visit author page


Senay Purzer Purdue University, West Lafayette (College of Engineering) Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Ṣenay Purzer is an Associate Professor in the School of Engineering Education. She is the recipient of a 2012 NSF CAREER award, which examines how engineering students approach innovation. She serves on the editorial boards of Science Education and the Journal of Pre-College Engineering Education (JPEER). She received a B.S.E with distinction in Engineering in 2009 and a B.S. degree in Physics Education in 1999. Her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees are in Science Education from Arizona State University earned in 2002 and 2008, respectively.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Design is a complex, ambiguous, and iterative process. Expert designers place extra emphasis on particular design activities, such as framing problems, practicing idea fluency and reflecting on their design process. Understanding students’ prioritization and re-prioritization on design strategies after undertaking a design project allows an opportunity to see how students’ conceptions of design develop. This work-in-progress uses a conceptions of design research instrument adapted to be sensitive to students’ design experience with a simulated engineering design environment (Energy3D). Students select the five most important and five least important design activities from a list of twenty and provide an open-response regarding one of their selected terms for both most and least important terms. The survey was administered as a pre- and post-test assessment in three middle schools in the Midwest with over 700 students. Through statistical analysis of changing terms of McNemar tests and through qualitatively analyzing the open responses, we are working towards validating this tool for use in middle schools across the US. This tool requires little time from students to complete, and is relatively straightforward for educators to assess meaning it could be an effective and efficient design assessment tool.

Goldstein, M. H., & Adams, R., & Purzer, S. (2017, June), Work In Progress: Assessing Students' Changing Conceptions of Design Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--29146

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2017 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015