Breadth in Problem Scoping: a Comparison of Freshman and Senior Engineering Students

Cynthia J. Atman and Ken Yasuhara
Center for Engineering Learning and Teaching
University of Washington, Box 352180, Seattle, WA 98195-2180, USA
E-mail: atman@engr.washington.edu, yasuhara@u.washington.edu

Robin S. Adams
Department of Engineering Education
Purdue University, Armstrong Hall, 701 West Stadium Ave., West Lafayette, IN 47907-2045, USA
E-mail: rsadams@purdue.edu

Theresa J. Barker
Department of Industrial Engineering
University of Washington, Box 352650, Seattle, WA 98195-2650, USA
E-mail: barkertj@u.washington.edu

Jennifer Turns
Department of Technical Communication
University of Washington, Box 352195, Seattle, WA 98195-2195, USA
E-mail: jturns@engr.washington.edu

Eddie Rhone
Lake Partners Strategy Consultants, Inc.
1000 Second Ave., Suite 3600, Seattle, WA 98104, USA
E-mail: rhone@lakepartners.com

Abstract:
In this paper we characterize breadth of problem scoping in an engineering design problem. Specifically, we present several measures that quantify the number and variety of factors an individual problem-solver considers during the engineering design process. We apply these measures to data collected from freshman and senior engineering students who solved a short design problem. The results of our study indicate that graduating seniors do consider a broader array of factors than freshmen as they undertake the problem-scoping stage of the design process.

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