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A Study on the Representation of Examples in Learning Engineering Concepts

[+] Author Affiliations
Olufunmilola Atilola, Vimal Viswanathan, Julie Linsey

Texas A&M University, College Station, TX

Paper No. DETC2012-71262, pp. 37-46; 10 pages
  • ASME 2012 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 7: 9th International Conference on Design Education; 24th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology
  • Chicago, Illinois, USA, August 12–15, 2012
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4506-6
  • Copyright © 2012 by ASME


The use of examples in engineering curricula is a commonly used means to teach engineering students new concepts and ideas; these examples play an important role in teaching engineering students how to become technically competent engineers and designers. Being able to learn from examples and avoid fixation to those examples is an important task in that process. Design fixation is a major constraint in design thinking as it limits the solution space where designers search for their ideas. The experiments described in this paper aims to investigate how students fixate to different types of representations. A pilot study comparing sketched and physical representations of examples shows that students are less likely to fixate to the design specifications of examples provided in the form of physical model, this suggests that they are able to better understand the design limitations of examples presented in the form of a physical model. Based on the preliminary results from this pilot experiment, the framework for a follow-up experiment is developed. This second experiment will explore the trend observed in the pilot study further and will compare how students fixate on and derive information between sketched and computer-aided design representations.

Copyright © 2012 by ASME



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