skip to main content

Title: Innovating Scaffolded Prototyping for Design Education: Toward A Conceptual Framework Derived from Mathematics Pedagogy
The practice of prototyping is challenging to novice designers as they underutilize insights that prototyping offers to solving design problem. Central to this challenge is the abstract nature of design concepts like idea representation, iteration, and problem solution-space exploration. A unique opportunity from mathematics education presents itself for design educators and facilitators; that is, teaching with manipulatives. We seek to transfer such practices in mathematics education to design education and practice. Challenges exist for design researchers to carefully craft activities in design education mainly because of the open-endedness of problems, decision-making that takes place while designing, and the inherent uncertainties in the design problems. Ultimately, the goal is to develop students’ ability to flexibly transfer expertise to other contexts and new design challenges.
Authors:
; ;
Award ID(s):
1723802
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10214812
Journal Name:
Forty-First Annual Meeting of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. This is a research study that investigates the range of conceptions of prototyping in engineering design courses through exploring the conceptions and implementations from the instructors’ perspective. Prototyping is certainly an activity central to engineering design. The context of prototyping to support engineering education and practice has a range of implementations in an undergraduate engineering curriculum, from first-year engineering to capstone engineering design experiences. Understanding faculty conceptions’ of the reason, purpose, and place of prototyping can help illustrate how teaching and learning of the engineering design process is realistically implemented across a curriculum and how students are prepared for work practice. We seek to understand, and consequently improve, engineering design teaching and learning, through transformations of practice that are based on engineering education research. In this exploratory study, we interviewed three faculty members who teach engineering design in project-based learning courses across the curriculum of an undergraduate engineering program. This builds on related work done by the authors that previously investigated undergraduate engineering students’ conceptions of prototyping activities and process. With our instructor participants, a similar interview protocol was followed through semi-structured qualitative interviews. Data analysis has been undertaken through an emerging thematic analysis of these interview transcripts. Early findingsmore »characterize the focus on teaching the design process; the kind of feedback that the educators provide on students’ prototypes; students’ behavior while working on design projects; and educators’ perspectives on the design course. Understanding faculty conceptions with students’ conceptions of prototyping can shed light on the efficacy of using prototyping as an authentic experience in design teaching and learning. In project-based learning courses, particular issues of authenticity and assessment are under consideration, especially across the curriculum. More specifically, “proportions of problems” inform “problem solving” as one of the key characteristics in design thinking, teaching and learning. More attention to prototyping as part of the study of problem-solving processes can be useful to enhance understanding of the impact of instructional design. Challenges for teaching engineering design exist, and may be due to difficulties in framing design problems, recognizing what expertise students possess, and assessing their expertise to help them reach their goals, all at an appropriate place and ambiguity with student learning goals. Initial findings show that prototyping activities can help students become more reflective on their design. Scaffolded activities in prototyping can support self-regulated learning by students. The range of support and facilities, such as campus makerspaces, may also help students and instructors alike develop industry-ready engineering students.« less
  2. This research paper studies the challenges that mathematics faculty and graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) faced when moving active and collaborative calculus courses from in-person to virtual instruction. As part of a larger pedagogical change project (described below), the math department at a public Research-1 university began transitioning pre-calculus and calculus courses to an active and collaborative learning (ACL) format in Fall 2019. The change began with the introduction of collaborative worksheets in recitations which were led by GTAs and supported by undergraduate learning assistants (LAs). Students recitation periods collaboratively solving the worksheet problems on whiteboards. When COVID-19 forced the rapid transition to online teaching, these ACL efforts faced an array of challenges. Faculty and GTA reflections on the changes to teaching and learning provide insight into how instructional staff can be supported in implementing ACL across various modes of instruction. The calculus teaching change efforts discussed in this paper are part of an NSF-supported project that aims to make ACL the default method of instruction in highly enrolled gateway STEM courses across the institution. The theoretical framework for the project builds on existing work on grassroots change in higher education (Kezar and Lester, 2011) to study the effect of communitiesmore »of practice on changing teaching culture. The project uses course-based communities of practice (Wenger, 1999) that include instructors, GTAs, and LAs working together to design and enact teaching change in the targeted courses alongside ongoing professional development for GTAs and LAs. Six faculty and five GTAs involved in the teaching change effort in mathematics were interviewed after the Spring 2020 semester ended. Interview questions focused on faculty and GTA experiences implementing active learning after the rapid transition to online teaching. A grounded coding scheme was used to identify common themes in the challenges faced by instructors and GTAs as they moved online and in the impacts of technology, LA support, and the department community of practice on the move to online teaching. Technology, including both access and capabilities, emerged as a common barrier to student engagement. A particular barrier was students’ reluctance to share video or participate orally in sessions that were being recorded, making group work more difficult than it had been in a physical classroom. In addition, most students lacked access to a tablet for freehand writing, presenting a significant hurdle for sharing mathematical notation when physical whiteboards were no longer an option. These challenges point to the importance of incorporating flexibility in active learning implementation and in the professional development that supports teaching changes toward active learning, since what is conceived for a collaborative physical classroom may be implemented in a much different environment. The full paper will present a detailed analysis of the data to better understand how faculty and GTA experiences in the transition to online delivery can inform planning and professional development as the larger institutional change effort moves forward both in mathematics and in other STEM fields.« less
  3. In summarizing the state of engineering education in the United States the 1918 Mann Report articulated a vision for engineering as “harmonizing the conflicting demands of technical skill and liberal education” and the engineer “not as a conglomeration of classical scholarship and mechanical skill, but as the creator of machines and the interpreter of their human significance, well qualified to increase the material rewards of human labor and to organize industry for the more intelligent development of men.” While later reports shifted the direction of degree programs, elements of the vision articulated in the Mann report remain defining characteristics of an engineering education. The focus on industry emphasizes current, contingent, and contextualized knowledge while synthesis of technical, organizational, and liberal forms of knowing and doing remains a strong theme in engineering education. Engineering, however, is not the only discipline to address such issues. Management, teaching, and medicine also educate people for practice and must continually engage with a changing world to remain relevant. In this paper it is hypothesized that degree programs in these disciplines confront, with varying degrees of success, a tension between providing the knowledge needed to act and inculcating the ability in students to act spontaneously andmore »in the right way. This paper explores this tension by looking across these disciplines to identify practices that are believed to be effective in giving students the knowledge and abilities needed to act professionally. The general approach that has emerged is having students actively address problems of varying degrees of difficulty and constraint through techniques such a problem-based learning. The broad use of problem-centered techniques in disciplines which deal with “the world as it exists now” is to develop a difficult-to-describe characteristic in students – a pervasive mode of being that allows graduates to address challenges and adapt themselves to new situations as need arises. Because this goal is difficult to articulate or measure, it is often described through analogies such as “T-shaped” engineers or the development of professional or transferable skills. Here it is proposed that this objective is achieved by synthesizing diverse lived experiences, a process which is aided by developing forms of transfer that allows experiences developed in one context to be drawn upon effectively in another. Such experiential transfer is likely different than knowledge transfer across disciplinary domains and may be enhanced by supporting the development of goal-based concepts. Furthermore, although this characteristic is often decomposed into discrete educational outcomes such as teamwork or communication, defining and assessing outcomes necessarily emphasizes skill within a domain rather than synthesis across domains. Thus outcomes-based assessment may be counter-productive to developing sought after characteristics of graduates.« less
  4. This innovative practice work in progress paper presents Biologically inspired design (BID) to transfer design principles identified in nature to human-centered design problems. The Biologically Inspired Design for Engineering Education (BIRDEE) program uses biologically inspired design to teach high school engineering in a way that uniquely engages students in the natural world. For high school students, identifying natural systems’ analogues for human design problems can be challenging. Furthermore, it is often the case that students focus on and transfer superficial structures, rather than underlying design principles. Based on the Structure-Behavior-Function (SBF) design ontology, we developed a modified cognitive scaffold called Structure- Function-Mechanism (SFM) to assist students and teachers with identifying functionally similar biological analogies and identifying and transferring design principles. In this paper we describe SFM and its importance in BID and our observations from teaching SFM to high school teachers during a multi-week professional development workshop in the summer of 2020. Based on teachers’ work artifacts, transcriptions of discussions, and focus groups, we highlight the challenges of teaching SFM and our plans to scaffold this important concept for students and teachers alike.
  5. Learning is usually conceptualized as a process during which new information is processed in working memory to form knowledge structures called schemas, which are stored in long-term memory. Practice plays a critical role in developing schemas through learning-by-doing. Contemporary expertise development theories have highlighted the influence of deliberate practice (DP) on achieving exceptional performance in sports, music, and different professional fields. Concurrently, there is an emerging method for improving learning efficiency by combining deliberate practice with cognitive load theory (CLT), a cognition-architecture-based theory for instructional design. Mechanics is a foundation for most branches of engineering. It serves to develop problem-solving skills and consolidate understanding of other subjects, such as applied mathematics and physics. Mechanics has been a challenging subject. Students need to understand governing principles to gain conceptual knowledge and acquire procedural knowledge to apply these principles to solve problems. Due to the difficulty in developing conceptual and procedural knowledge, mechanics courses are among those which receive high DFW rates (percentage of students receiving a grade of D or F or Withdrawing from a course) and students are more likely to leave engineering after taking mechanics courses. Since deliberate practice can help novices develop good representations of the knowledge neededmore »to produce superior problem solving performance, this study is to evaluate how deliberate practice helps students learn mechanics during the process of schema acquisition and consolidation. Considering cognitive capacity limitations, we will apply cognitive load theory to develop deliberate practice to help students build declarative and procedural knowledge without exceeding their working memory limitations. We will evaluate the effects of three practice strategies based on CLT on the schema acquisition and consolidation in two mechanics courses (i.e., Statics and Dynamics). Examples and assessment results will be provided to evaluate the effectiveness of the practice strategies as well as the challenges.« less