The benefits of model building in teaching engineering design

Gay Lemons, Adam Carberry, Chris Swan, Linda Jarvin, Chris Rogers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


Using verbal protocol analysis, we report how model building has the potential to aid engineering students in solving a design task. From our analysis of 8 students in varying engineering disciplines, we found that physical construction of a model during an open-ended design task helped students generate and evaluate ideas, better visualize their ideas, and helped students uncover differences between real behavior and the conceptual model used to predict that behavior. Model building also enhanced creative thinking and helped students become more aware of their own meta-cognitive design strategies. We also found that, regardless of when they began sketching or building, the process was fairly similar in length for most of these students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)288-309
Number of pages22
JournalDesign Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • design cognition
  • design education
  • engineering design
  • engineering education
  • protocol analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Artificial Intelligence


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