Project-based design classes are increasingly common in undergraduate engineering programs. However, there is a paucity of guidelines to support the development, implementation and efficacy evaluation of such new courses. Engineering design projects frequently serve as experiential learning activities for students to appropriately apply a methodical design process to specific design contexts. However, it is challenging for instructors to ensure that students achieve the intended learning objectives within project-based design classes. It is also difficult for researchers to directly compare design processes followed by students within different learning environments. These challenges are partly due to difficulties in monitoring and tracking student activities in classes where each student may pursue a different design problem and solution, and where the majority of class activity may take place outside of scheduled contact hours. This poster presents preliminary results from a project aiming to gain an improved understanding of how engineering design is taught and learned in order to provide foundation for a new pedagogical framework to guide the development, evaluation and improvement of learning environments for project-based engineering courses.
The poster describes the Design Evaluation and Feedback Tool (DEFT), a custom-built web-based system that collects and reports data to support teaching, learning and research in project-based engineering design education, and a case study to demonstrate its capabilities as a method of collecting and analyzing data from student design teams. The system is intended to support educators in coaching and monitoring student designers, encourage students in reflective reporting on their experiential learning, and to serve as a data collection tool for education researchers.
This poster also presents the results of a case study of a proposed framework involving DEFT data to evaluate project-based design courses. The research consisted of interviews with the lead instructor of the classes (n=1), weekly observation of the student groups and the analysis of self-reported student design process data (n=12) to review the efficacy of the design class. The poster concludes by discussing class-specific modifications, plans to make the tool publicly available and to scale the use of DEFT in large numbers of engineering design courses.
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