New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Design in Engineering Education
Information gathering is a crucial activity in design practice and is generally considered as part of the problem scoping process.Researchers have conducted expert-novice studies and found that experts spent more time engaged in problem scoping and gathered more information than senior engineering students 1, and seniors gathered more information than freshman students 2. While Atman’s research focused on information gathered, Shanteau3 focused on information use and found that the amount of information used does not reflect the designer's’ level of expertise. According to Shanteau, it is the evaluation and utilization of the gathered information that differentiates experts from non-experts.
The purpose of this study is to investigate the interplay between the mathematical and design thinking processes. We focus on quantitative information because it can be considered either as new mathematical knowledge the participant could get to work on the task, or it could also be understood as a new material resource they have. Both, mathematical (quantitative) knowledge and mathematical material resources are part of mathematical thinking, and understanding how these support or hinders design thinking has become a relevant study topic. Therefore, the acquisition and utilization of quantitative information during a design process will be explored by answering the following research questions:
1) What kind of quantitative information do First-Year Engineering students gather? 2) How is this information used during their design processes, and 3) How does this information translate to their final designs?
Data for this study was collected from 20 First-Year Engineering students who attend an ABET accredited university in the midwestern U.S. This analysis focuses on a sample of 5 of these students. Each of the students who participated in the study were asked to “think aloud” while designing a playground for an imaginary neighborhood. The entire three-hour design session was both video and audio recorded and the participants’ final design artifacts were also electronically documented. Each student received the same design task in a written form containing background information and design requirements, and each student was able to acquire more information (from either that task administrator or the internet) that they considered relevant during their design process. Macro-level video analysis coding of the video data will be aided by reviewing the researcher fieldnotes, and will allow the research team to identify major events (i.e. when the students acquired or utilized quantitative information). In addition to what is already known about information gathering, we anticipate contributing additional insights into the ways that first-year engineering students acquire, evaluate and utilize quantitative information.
1. Atman CJ, Adams RS, Cardella ME, Turns J, Mosborg S, Saleem J, 2007, “Engineering Design Processes: A Comparison of Students and Expert Practitioners”, Journal of Engineering Education. 2. Atman CJ, Chimka JR, Bursic KM, Nachtmann HL, 1999, “A comparison of freshman and senior engineering design processes”. Design Studies. 1999;20(2):131-152. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0142694X98000313. doi: 10.1016/S0142-694X(98)00031-3. 3. Shanteau J., 1992, “How much information does an expert use? is it relevant?”, Acta Psychologica, 81,75-86 4. Tolbert D, Cardella ME, 2014, “Learning to Integrate Mathematical and Design Thinking in Engineering”, ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, American Society for Engineering Education
Liu, G., & Tolbert, D., & Mendoza-Garcia, J. A., & Sriram, A. R., & Cardella, M. E. (2016, June), WORK IN PROGRESS: Quantitative Information Acquisition and Utilization by First-Year Engineering Students Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27028
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