Expert and Student Conceptions of the Design Process: Developmental Differences with Implications for Educators

Walker, Joan M.T and King, Paul H. and Cordray, David S. and Fries, Richard C. (2004) Expert and Student Conceptions of the Design Process: Developmental Differences with Implications for Educators. In: Concept Maps: Theory, Methodology, Technology. Proc. of the First Int. Conference on Concept Mapping. Universidad Pública de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain, pp. 619-626. ISBN 84-9769-064-8

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If educators want students to learn to think like experts, then we need to learn how experts think. In this set of studies, we posed two questions: (1) what is “the wisdom” of engineering design (i.e., what are the key concepts), and (2) how do people at different points of professional development define the engineering design process? Both questions were intended to enhance understanding of and support for students’ professional development and conceptual understanding of design. The method of assessment used was concept mapping. A concept map is a spatial representation of ideas and their relationships. Fifteen experts in academe and industry each constructed a map reflecting their understanding of the design process. From those maps, we extracted critical concepts to establish a taxonomy consisting of six broad categories: the design process, motivation for the design, interpersonal skills, technical skills, safety (e.g., regulation, ethics), and marketing. These categories were then used as benchmarks for assessing the development of undergraduates taking a year-long senior design course. Students constructed individual maps at three time points. Analyses revealed that students and experts expressed similar understandings of the importance of interpersonal and technical skills; however, students made consistently fewer references to safety and marketing than did experts. Over time, the expert-student gap closed in two areas: knowledge of the design process and its underlying motivations. In addition to their implications for educators, these findings offer an important avenue for understanding the nature of expertise. That is, they suggest that experts have a more developed understanding of the social context in which a design and designers function. The study’s implications for research in concept mapping are also discussed.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: Paper, CMC2004
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Depositing User: Mr. Ernest Prats
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2012 20:08
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2012 20:08

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