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Work in Progress: The Effect of Immersive Design-Build Experiences on Knowledge of the Engineering Design Process

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Biomedical Division Poster Session

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William H. Guilford University of Virginia Orcid 16x16

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Will Guilford is an Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Virginia. He is also the Undergraduate Program Director for Biomedical Engineering, and the Director for Educational Innovation in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. He received his B.S. in Biology and Chemistry from St. Francis College in Ft. Wayne, Indiana and his Ph.D. in Physiology from the University of Arizona. Will did his postdoctoral training in Molecular Biophysics at the University of Vermont under David Warshaw. His research interests include novel assessments of educational efficacy, the molecular basis of cell movement, and the mitigation of infectious diseases.

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Anna S. Blazier University of Virginia

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Alyssa B. Becker University of Virginia

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Knowledge of the engineering design process is integral to all engineering fields, and explicit didactic approaches exist for instilling students with this knowledge. However, one can also use immersive, hands-on design-build activities to implicitly deliver this knowledge.

We sought to answer two questions: (1) can a course that immerses students in iterative physical construction of student designed devices rather than classroom activities improve knowledge of the engineering design process, and (2) does a learning environment that also emphasizes academic advising offer additional benefit in bolstering this knowledge?

Paired sections of an introductory engineering design course were studied, each with the same instructor over two years, to determine if an intensive design-build learning environment affects students’ knowledge of the engineering design process. Students in both sections of the course identified a problem to solve, considered several possible device-based solutions to the problem, built one functional mockup, analyzed its performance, and built an alpha-prototype of their device. Documentation included an online laboratory notebook, and an invention disclosure. While one section of the course emphasized team meetings and brainstorming during the build phase (control), the other section gave an equivalent time to in-class discussion and advising.

A test of engineering design process knowledge (Bailey and Szabo, 2005) was delivered twice – once at the beginning and once at the end of the fall 2014 semester. Surprisingly the instrument showed an overall improvement only in the documentation aspect of engineering design process knowledge over the course of the semester; the control sections but not the advising sections also showed gains in knowledge of the design process layout, and total design process knowledge. Among the possible explanations for this are (a) failure of the immersive experiences to covertly deliver process knowledge, (b) that the instrument is not an accurate measurement of process knowledge, (c) that the instrument is overly sensitive to context, and (d) that the additional priming before the first measurement biases the instrument. Future work will be directed to developing an alternative measure of engineering design process knowledge.

Guilford, W. H., & Blazier, A. S., & Becker, A. B. (2016, June), Work in Progress: The Effect of Immersive Design-Build Experiences on Knowledge of the Engineering Design Process Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27038

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