Towards assessing student gains in systems thinking during engineering design

DS 87-9 Proceedings of the 21st International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED 17) Vol 9: Design Education, Vancouver, Canada, 21-25.08.2017

Year: 2017
Editor: Anja Maier, Stanko Škec, Harrison Kim, Michael Kokkolaras, Josef Oehmen, Georges Fadel, Filippo Salustri, Mike Van der Loos
Author: Tomko, Megan; Nelson, Jacob; Linsey, Julie; Bohm, Matt; Nagel, Robert
Series: ICED
Institution: 1: Georgia Institute of Technology, United States of America; 2: James Madison University, United States of America; 3: Florida Polytechnic University, United States of America
Section: Design Education
Page(s): 179-188
ISBN: 978-1-904670-97-1
ISSN: 2220-4342


Ultimately, as design educators we want to train our students to consider their world holistically such that they may recognize the interconnected elements of a system as well as synthesize and apply their engineering knowledge effectively when faced with new engineering challenges. The overarching goal of this research is to design both an assessment instrument and an assessment method to assess engineering students’ ability to use systems thinking rather than recitation of memorized law or theorem. Toward this goal, the Systems Assessment Test (SysTest) is presented as an instrument for measuring systems thinking. Preliminary assessment measures for the instrument are presented along with results from an application during a sophomore design course where students taught functional modeling were compared to students taught function enumeration. The analysis demonstrates promise that the students taught functional modeling versus only being taught enumeration are using more of a systems thinking approach when approaching the SysTest design problem.

Keywords: Design education, Design learning, Systems Engineering (SE)


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