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Problem Decomposition and Recomposition in Engineering Design: A Comparison of Design Behavior Between Professional Engineers, Engineering Seniors, and Engineering Freshmen

Authors:

Ting Song ,

South Puget Sound Community College, US
About Ting
Professor in the Department of Applied Science at South Puget Sound Community College in Olympia, Washington.
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Kurt Becker,

Utah State University, US
About Kurt
Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Utah State University.
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John Gero,

George Mason University & University of North Carolina., US
About John
Research Professor in the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study at George Mason University & University of North Carolina.
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Scott DeBerard,

Utah State University, US
About Scott
Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Utah State University.
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Oenardi Lawanto,

Utah State University, US
About Oenardi
Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Utah State University.
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Edward Reeve

Utah State University, US
About Edward
Professor in the Department of Technology and Engineering Education at Utah State University.
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Abstract

The authors investigated the differences in using problem decomposition and problem recomposition between dyads of engineering experts, engineering seniors, and engineering freshmen. Participants worked in dyads to complete an engineering design challenge within 1 hour. The entire design process was video and audio recorded. After the design session, members participated in a group interview. Video and audio data were transcribed, segmented, and coded to make comparisons. Results show differences between engineering experts, seniors, and freshman in design thinking. Students tend to use depth-first decomposition, and experts tend to use breadth-first decomposition in engineering design. The results also show that students spend less cognitive effort on the problem-definition stage than engineering experts.
How to Cite: Song, T., Becker, K., Gero, J., DeBerard, S., Lawanto, O., & Reeve, E. (2016). Problem Decomposition and Recomposition in Engineering Design: A Comparison of Design Behavior Between Professional Engineers, Engineering Seniors, and Engineering Freshmen. Journal of Technology Education, 27(2), 37–56. DOI: http://doi.org/10.21061/jte.v27i2.a.3
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Published on 22 Mar 2016.
Peer Reviewed

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