Identifying and transferring secrets of engineering design drive innovation within a successful company. In design courses, engineering students rarely use a lab book, a research notebook, or design journal to document anything! During the summer of 2006, a University of Maryland RISE undergraduate research team piloted a study of 12 students’ design journal entries during a Mechanical Engineering senior Capstone design course. Existing note coding schemes from the engineering education researchers were adapted and tested with the goal of inferring cognitive activity. Journal entries revealed individual characteristics about students as learners including: uneven time commitment to design stages, preference for sketching, documentation clarity and individual buy-in to design tools presented in class. Design journal research is a promising path to understanding how students are learning and practicing design.

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