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An investigation into the relative contribution of engineering courses in the development of problem solving and thought processes

by Gomez, Alan G.

Abstract (Summary)
Gomez Alan Gregory_______________________ (Writer) (Last Name) (First Name) (Middle Name) _____________________________________________________________________ An Investigation Into The Relative Contribution Of Engineering Courses In The Development Of Problem Solving And Thought Processes _____________________________________________________________________ Masters in Industrial/Technology Education ______________________________________________________________________ Dr. Kenneth Welty April 8, 2004 134 Pages ______________________________________________________________________ American Psychological Association, 5th edition ______________________________________________________________________ The study of engineering in high schools has recently become an innovative addition to the curriculum. This movement, as any new addition to the curriculum would, comes with many questions that need to be answered. The purpose of this study was to determine the relative contribution of an engineering curriculum in the development of the problem solving and thought processes. The research addresses whether or not there is there a difference between students in a non-technical class (art students) and an engineering class as well as a general physics class with regards to how they solve a structural problem within three iterations. Two-hundred-fifty junior and senior students enrolled in engineering, art and physics classes were asked to attempt to solve a structural problem in three iterations. The objective of Problem solving and engineering iii the structural problem was to remove as much paper as possible, leaving two outer holes intact to hang their designed solution, while supporting a 500 gram weight. They were asked questions about how they formulated their solutions, what the results of the testing were, and to forecast or plan what they would do next. The findings of this research tell us that engineering students (versus physics and art students) can attack problems with a higher consistency, relating their solutions to previous experiences and carry out their thought processes from concept to design more frequently. An engineering course is unique in nature and contributes significantly in the development of problem solving and thought processes. Engineering students used calculations and carried ideas forward to their next design more than art or physics students. When the mean weights of students successful solutions were compared, engineering students designed the lightest, followed by art and physics respectively. This study supports the findings of the National Science Foundation’s recommendations that there is a need for more emphasis on teaching the process of a discipline and on developing critical thinking skills. Problem solving and engineering iv
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School:Centro Universitário do Planalto de Araxá

School Location:Brazil

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:engineering

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