Learning to Design: Authenticity, Negotiation,and Innovation*
, ANTHONY J. PETROSINO
and KENNETH R. DILLER
The University of New Mexico, Albuquerque NM 87131. E-mail: email@example.com
The University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station D5700, Austin, TX 78712. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station D5700, Austin, TX 78712. E-mail: email@example.com
Engineering design is a collaborative and complex process, and our understanding of how to support student teams inlearning to design remains limited. By considering in-situ student design teams in a capstone biomedical engineeringcourse, we are a
orded the opportunity to contrast two versions of a non-sponsored project, then consider expertperceptionsoftheirlatersponsoreddesigns.Datafromtwocohortsofthecourseyieldcompellingcontrastsforauthenticdesignlearningexperiences.Wefoundthatanon-sponsoredredesignprojectledstudentstovaluescustomerneedsandtouse them to deﬁne the design problem, whereas in a kit-based version this did not occur. We also found that greaterperceived opportunities to negotiate one’s understanding within a team predicted more innovative team designs.
engineering design; innovation; expertise
In Educating the Engineer of 2020, a report for theNational Academy of Engineering, the neededattributesofengineersofthenearfutureareentailedasfollows:engineersneedtopossessstronganalyticskills, practical ingenuity, creativity, communica-tion, businessand management skills, professional-ism, leadership, high ethical standards, and belifelong learners . Furthermore, they will need‘something that cannot be described in a singleword. It involves dynamism, agility, resilience, andﬂexibility’ (p. 56). We view design activity to be acontext in which many of these characteristics areparticularly needed, and thus see design activity asintegral to engineering education. We present dataand analysis from two cohorts of a universitycapstone biomedical engineering design course.We conducted our research with student teamslearning to design. We investigate design skills,predicting that students’ learning of designerlyaspects of problem solving, (e.g., incorporatingcustomer needs), will depend upon the need topractice such skills. We hypothesize that learningto design involves acquiring and applying factualand conceptual knowledge but that doing so is notsu
cient to predict innovative design. Finally, weconsiderwhyteamdesigninparticularo
erspoten-tial for learning, predicting that when studentsperceive opportunities to collaborate and sharetheir ideas that they will tend to produce moreinnovative designs.We next frame thisstudybyconsidering researchon the development of expertise in general and indesign speciﬁcally, also considering aspects of col-laboration as they relate to problem solving anddeveloping expertise.Studies of engineering design have focused pri-marily on contrasting novice with intermediate orexpert designers or on categorizing design skills of experts. In most cases, these studies have occurredinisolation of other people, (though resources havebeen available during tasks), and the design taskshave been of limited duration (generally under twohours) . For instance, individual professionalengineers spent two hours designing an attachmentfor placing a certain bag onto a certain bike frame. Dorst  raised the issue of using such experi-mentaltasksforthestudyofdesign.Althoughthesetasksseemtowarrantthegenerationofataxonomyofdesignproblems,itisdi
culttoknowifthetasksthathavebeenthefocusofstudyarerepresentative,especially as most have occurred in laboratorysettings, not in design studio settings. Therefore,thereviewofresearchondesignmustbeconsideredsomewhat tentative in its bearing on extended teamdesign
.Thoughtherearesomewhoconsiderdesigntobemore art than method , many researchers havefounditfruitfultooperationalizedesignprocessasatype of problem solving. Jonassen  categorizedproblems by providing the dimensions of structure,complexity,anddomainspeciﬁcity.Well-structuredproblems involve the application of ﬁnite conceptsand rules in a predictive and prescriptive manner,such that the solutions are predictable. Ill-struc-tured problems
in life and require the inte-grationofvariousdomainsofknowledgeandskills.Ill-structured problems involve incorporating pre-ference or opinion while making judgments aboutunknown and uncertain elements, such that there
* Accepted 4 March 2012.
IJEE 2601 PROOFS
International Journal of Engineering Education
Vol. 28, No. 4, pp. 1–17, 2012 0949-149X/91 $3.00+0.00Printed in Great Britain
2012 TEMPUS Publications.