Why make it? Understanding undergraduate engineering students' conceptions for the purpose of prototyping in engineering design activities

Hadi Ali, Micah Lande

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

2 Scopus citations


Prototyping in design provides ways to navigate ambiguity in the design problem, gain insight through the refinement of ideas, and aid in communication between team members. However, while designing, students often underutilize prototyping and do not consider it as an integral part of the design process. To facilitate the scaffolding of design activities, it is necessary first to understand students' conceptions of prototyping. In this study, we use artifact elicitation interviews as a method to elicit students' conceptions by moving from the specifics of the artifacts they brought with them to the interview, to their general understanding of prototyping. Participants in the study are students in an undergraduate sophomore design-oriented, project-based learning course in a large southwestern university. Students were invited to participate in a screening survey. After potential participants suitable for the purpose of this study were identified, some were selected for a follow-up interview. The findings of the study describe students' conceptions of 'what counts' as a prototype; what is valued in a prototype; the benefits of, and challenges associated with prototyping; and differences between in-class and out-of-class prototyping activities. The findings of this study improve our understanding to effectively scaffold prototyping activities in design and experiential learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationFrontiers in Education
Subtitle of host publicationFostering Innovation Through Diversity, FIE 2018 - Conference Proceedings
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
ISBN (Electronic)9781538611739
StatePublished - Jul 2 2018
Event48th Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2018 - San Jose, United States
Duration: Oct 3 2018Oct 6 2018

Publication series

NameProceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE
ISSN (Print)1539-4565


Conference48th Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Jose


  • Design education
  • Design learning
  • Prototyping
  • Scaffolded activities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Education
  • Computer Science Applications


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