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Work in Progress: Pilot Study of an Engineering Modified Problem-Solving Inventory using Civil Engineering Undergraduate Students

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

ERM Technical Session 18: Student Learning and Problem Solving

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Adam Phillips Washington State University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Adam Phillips is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Coughlin Distinguished Professor of Structural Engineering at Washington State University. His primary research interests are in the areas of earthquake engineering, hybrid structural systems, resilient and sustainable design, and steel design.

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Colin Alec Lambie Washington State University

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Graduate Research Assistant

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TITLE: WIP: Pilot Study of an Engineering Modified Problem-Solving Inventory using Civil Engineering Undergraduate Students

This work in progress (WIP) paper describes the development of a new engineering modified - problem solving inventory (EM-PSI). The EM-PSI is a student’s self-assessment of their problem solving and critical thinking abilities broken down into three sub-categories, 1) problem solving confidence, 2) approach-avoidance style, and 3) personal control. The EM-PSI is an innovative tool that is eventually intended be used as an evaluation metric, together with traditional metrics such as GPA and test scores, to improve pedagogical techniques and curricular content.

The EM-PSI was evaluated in a pilot study by distributing a 30 question survey to undergraduate civil engineering students and engineering faculty at Washington State University in the Fall 2017 and Spring 2018. The survey was voluntary and there was a total of 73 responses in the target groups. Internal consistency of the EM-PSI items was evaluated using Cronback’s alpha for each sub-category and it was determined that each has acceptable reliable. Initial results for an ANOVA analysis are also presented.

The initial statistical results show that EM-PSI is statistically significant between undergraduate students and engineering faculty. Post-hoc analysis that will be conducted in the future will determine if class year, gender, type of high-school education, and/or parents being engineers has any significant effect on EM-PSI score. Future research hopes to demonstrate that the EM-PSI is reliable, consistent, and a good predictor of technical problem solving. EM-PSI scores will provide educators with another tool to track the effects of pedagogical changes (i.e. flipped classroom, problem-based learning modules, etc.) and curricular changes on student self-assessment of their critical thinking and problem solving ability.

Phillips, A., & Lambie, C. A. (2019, June), Work in Progress: Pilot Study of an Engineering Modified Problem-Solving Inventory using Civil Engineering Undergraduate Students Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33642

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