June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
October 19, 2019
This Work in Progress Paper analyzes the process by which students start solving mechanical engineering problems. Participants of this study were given a problem and asked “how would you start solving this problem?” In analyzing participants’ responses, focus was placed on several representations: free body diagram or drawing, use of calculations or analysis, intuition or estimation, identification of additional background, and consideration of alternative designs. Problems with multiple solution methods and multiple answers were chosen, so participants were not confined to solving rote exercises and could fully demonstrate their understanding. These problems were chosen to fit within the scope of undergraduate courses in Engineering Computation and Mechanics of Materials. The subject area of these problems was constrained to the non-design curriculum in mechanical engineering to complement the existing body of work on early stage design by Yang et. al.
To sharpen our methods, a working definition of the start of a problem was proposed. This definition is based on a survey of problem solving strategies by Woods et. al. and includes defining the problem, exploring the problem space, and planning the solution. These strategies are beneficial for starting open-ended problems where the solution path is not immediately obvious to the solver. Evidence for the use of these strategies was obtained by examining participants’ performance on these problems. The techniques used for starting the problem was correlated with problem solving outcome. The overall goal of this study is to understand how students can effectively start difficult coursework-level problems in order to improve engineering problem solving education.
Li, H., & Hosoi, A. (2019, June), Work in Progress: Initial Approaches for Starting Open-Ended Problems in Mechanical Engineering Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33631
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