Self-regulation is defined broadly as a complex repository of knowledge and skills for planning, implementing, monitoring, evaluating, and continually improving the learning process. Studies have found that the consistent use of self-regulation in an academic setting is highly correlated with student achievement. Self-regulation plays a critical role in problem-solving particularly when unraveling ill-structured problems such as engineering design. The major aim of this five-year research project is to study the self-regulated learning (SRL) activities of college seniors engaged in a capstone engineering design project. This project is grounded in Butler and Cartier’s SRL model, which describes the interplay between affect, motivation, cognition, and metacognition within academic engineering design activities. Dym & Little’s design process model was also used as sensitizing theoretical framework. Specific objectives of the research activities in this project are to (1) Build research protocols and tools to be used to study student self-regulation; (2) Describe the self-regulation strategies in which students engage during engineering design processes and project management; (3) Strengthen educational practices through the development of activities to communicate the role of self-regulation in design to engineering educators and students. At the present time, the project has successfully completed the first two objectives. The 127-item Engineering Design Metacognitive Questionnaires (EDMQ), which assess student’s self-regulation while engaged in an engineering design project, was developed, field-tested, and used. Web-based engineering design notebook (eJournal or eJ) was also designed, developed, and used for students archived and organized their project tasks and design outcomes. At the same time, eJ was used to collect valuable qualitative complementing quantitative data collected from EDMQ about students’ self-regulation while solving their design tasks. Our preliminary findings suggested that students focused most consistently on task interpretation than other self-regulatory strategies particularly during design. It was also found that students lacked awareness of the essential need to develop a method to assess the design deliverables. Self-regulation gaps found during early design phases and as the design process progressed, a more balanced self-regulation pattern was more apparent. Strengths and gaps in the cognitive strategies applied during the design project were also uncovered. At this present time, qualitative data analyses are not yet finished. Moreover, a teaching guide and workshop to strengthen engineering design practices by promoting the role of self-regulation to engineering educators and students are currently developed.
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