Work in progress: Assessing students' changing conceptions of design

Molly H. Goldstein, Robin Adams, Senay Purzer

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Design is a complex, ambiguous, and iterative process. Expert designers place extra emphasis on particular design activities, such as framing problems, practicing idea fluency and reflecting on their design process. Understanding students' prioritization and re-prioritization on design strategies after undertaking a design project allows an opportunity to see how students' conceptions of design develop. This work-in-progress uses a conceptions of design research instrument adapted to be sensitive to students' design experience with a simulated engineering design environment (Energy3D). Students select the five most important and five least important design activities from a list of twenty and provide an open-response regarding one of their selected terms for both most and least important terms. The survey was administered as a preand post-test assessment in three middle schools in the Midwest with over 700 students. Through statistical analysis of changing terms of McNemar tests and through qualitatively analyzing the open responses, we are working towards validating this tool for use in middle schools across the US. This tool requires little time from students to complete, and is relatively straightforward for educators to assess meaning it could be an effective and efficient design assessment tool.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 24 2017
Externally publishedYes
Event124th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Columbus, United States
Duration: Jun 25 2017Jun 28 2017


  • Assessment
  • Design conception
  • Design knowledge
  • Engineering design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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