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Characterizing Design Cognition of High School Students: Initial Analyses Comparing those With and Without Pre-Engineering Experiences

Authors:

John Wells ,

Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, US
About John

Associate Professor in the Integrative STEM Education Program at Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University.

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Matthew Lammi,

North Carolina State University., US
About Matthew

Assistant Professor in the College of Education at North Carolina 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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Michael E. Grubbs,

Baltimore County Public Schools, US
About Michael

Supervisor of Technology and Engineering Education for Baltimore County Public Schools.

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Marie Paretti,

Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, US
About Marie
Associate Professor and Co-Director of the Virginia Tech Engineering Communication Center at Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University.
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Christopher Williams

Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, US
About Christopher

Associate Professor and Senior Faculty Fellow in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University.

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Abstract

Reported in this article are initial results from of a longitudinal study to characterize the design cognition and cognitive design styles of high school students with and without pre-engineering course experience over a 2-year period, and to compare them with undergraduate engineering students.

The research followed a verbal protocol analysis based on the function– behavior–structure (FBS) ontology, which employs a task-independent approach that is distinct from a task-based or an ad hoc approach. This approach to protocol analysis is applicable across any process-based view of designing and generates results based on a common comparative measure independent of the design task.

In this article, Year 1 results are presented comparing only students in their junior year of high school who had formal pre-engineering course experience (experiment group) with those who did not have formal pre-engineering course experience (control group). Specifically, data collected from design sessions were analyzed for comparison of design issues and processes between experiment and control groups, respectively. Results from analysis of Year 1 data did not reveal any significant differences between the experiment and control groups in engineering design cognition. Based on these results, one would conclude that students with pre-engineering course experience do not demonstrate a stronger focus on the process of producing design solutions than do students without such experience. Although analysis of demographic data from high school participants indicates some degree of common prior pre- engineering experiences, it did not provide a sufficient explanation for why no significant differences in engineering design thinking were found between these groups. The researchers anticipate that Year 2 data will indicate that as the pre- engineering students continue engaging in formal engineering design experiences during their final year of high school, some degree of difference in design cognition will be demonstrated.

How to Cite: Wells, J., Lammi, M., Gero, J., Grubbs, M. E., Paretti, M., & Williams, C. (2016). Characterizing Design Cognition of High School Students: Initial Analyses Comparing those With and Without Pre-Engineering Experiences. Journal of Technology Education, 27(2), 78–91. DOI: http://doi.org/10.21061/jte.v27i2.a.5
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Published on 22 Mar 2016.
Peer Reviewed

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