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WORK IN PROGRESS: Design Fixation in First-Year Engineering Students' Problem Solving

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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

Design in Engineering Education Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


DeLean Tolbert Purdue University - West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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DeLean Tolbert is an Engineering Education doctoral candidate at Purdue University. She earned a B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan–Dearborn and a M.S. in Industrial Engineering from the University of Michigan. Through her dissertation, DeLean investigates the ways that Black boys develop Engineer of 2020 attributes in their precollege out-of-school time lived experiences. This work will serve as a foundation for her future research, through which she anticipates exploring how ethnically diverse students apply these attributes to engineering tasks in both formal and informal settings.

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Monica E Cardella Purdue University - West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Monica E. Cardella is the Director of the INSPIRE Research Institute for Pre-College Engineering Education and is an Associate Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue University.

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Idea generation is an essential phase of the engineering design process. It is during this phase that the engineer can develop many possible solutions to address the design constraints, which will later be reduced to the final design solution. However, in some cases engineers may experience design fixation, which could lead to limited creativity and limited design solutions.

In this study, design fixation is being explored as first-year engineering students work independently for three hours to design a playground for a fictitious neighborhood. The research team explored the initial idea generation phase of first-year engineering students (N=14) with differing mathematics and design precollege experiences. The results of the quantitative analysis suggest that first-year engineering students in this study can be considered a homogenous group with respect to their mean number of design solutions. The participant's previous mathematical and design knowledge and experiences did not moderate idea generation.

Tolbert, D., & Cardella, M. E. (2016, June), WORK IN PROGRESS: Design Fixation in First-Year Engineering Students' Problem Solving Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27216

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