Abstract

This paper explores how students learn engineering, paying particular attention to development of engineering intuition.

Examination of traditional engineering curricula reveals that design and analysis are taught in separate classes. In contrast, learning theory and engineering design practice suggest engineering is best learned through integrated experiences. “Synalysis exercises”, which integrate activities in problem formulation, analysis and synthesis, have been developed to study integrated learning. Video analysis of the exercises reveals how students use formal knowledge in practice, the processes by which they learn and the social context in which learning occurs. The integration of dissimilar activities in synalysis exercises is found to evoke questioning behavior and to provide resources for answering questions. The exercises are explored as a tool for educational assessment.

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