Development of an online textbook and research tool for freshman engineering design

Linda Lindsley, Veronica Burrows

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


In many engineering design texts, the solution(s) to design problems are provided along with the proposed problem. Therefore, the student will read about the solution rather than take the time to think about the problem being presented. This paper explores the development of and pilot study done on an online textbook and research tool, based on the book, "How to Model It," by Starfield, Smith and Bleloch.1 With this online system, students are able to read only a portion of the text, and then must complete one or more tasks related to the modeling problem, then submit a response to the system. Their responses are captured and available for their review (but cannot be changed). Once their response is submitted, they can then proceed to read subsequent text where they might, for example, compare their responses with 'expert' design methods for that problem. Through this approach, students are forced to begin practicing the engineering design process, rather than simply reading about someone else's solution to the problem. This format allows engineering design instructors to look at the effectiveness of their teaching methods on student design learning in such areas as heuristics, problem definition, etc. Besides allowing instructors to assess their students' design learning process, the 'online book' generates data of potential interest for research on design learning. For research purposes, videotapes of the input process have been used to determine the amount of information, if any, lost during the participants' solving of the design problem on the computer (i.e., discussion of ideas not presented in the input response). The video data has shown that most ideas, heuristics, methods, etc. discussed by the students during the exercise are included in the data input as responses into the system, making this a useful tool to research student learning. Currently, the data produced using the online text is being compared to the same problems completed using more traditional methods (i.e., paper and pencil, followed by a computer report). We expect to find little difference in the data provided by these methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)


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