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ERIC Number: ED544734
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Jul
Pages: 3
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
Breadth in Design Problem Scoping: Using Insights from Experts to Investigate Student Processes. Research Brief
Morozov, Andrew; Kilgore, Deborah; Atman, Cynthia
Center for the Advancement of Engineering Education (NJ1)
In this study, the authors used two methods for analyzing expert data: verbal protocol analysis (VPA) and narrative analysis. VPA has been effectively used to describe the design processes employed by engineering students, expert designers, and expert-novice comparative research. VPA involves asking participants to "think aloud" while performing a design task. For this study, the design task was: In the past, the Midwest has experienced massive flooding of the Mississippi River. What factors would you take into account in designing a retaining wall system for the Mississippi? Each participant worked individually and had up to 30 minutes to complete the design task. Verbal responses were audio-recorded and transcribed for subsequent coding and interpretation. Narrative analysis entails a close reading of the transcripts seeking to identify content categories (particularly those not highlighted in the VPA) but also to trace the logic or structure underlying the respondent's answer. The expert data came from a subset of four responses purposefully selected from a pre-existing pool of 19 experienced engineers, representing six engineering specializations, identified by their peers at work as expert designers. The narrative analysis provided some promising directions for future research. Among other things, it allowed the authors to see the relationships between and among the experts' ideas and develop new understandings of what those relationships look like and how they reflect expert designers' thought processes.
Center for the Advancement of Engineering Education. Available from: University of Washington. Box 352183, Seattle, WA 98195. Fax: 206-221-3161; e-mail: celtad@engr.; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation
Authoring Institution: University of Washington, Center for the Advancement of Engineering Education (CAEE)