TITLE

Engineering Students' Experiences of Workplace Problem Solving

AUTHOR(S)
Rui Pan; Strobel, Johannes; Cardella, Monica E.
PUB. DATE
January 2014
SOURCE
Proceedings of the ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition;2014, p1
SOURCE TYPE
Conference Proceeding
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
Workplace problems are different from traditional textbook or classroom problems because they are ill-structured and complex in nature. Research shows that engineers need a wide range of knowledge and skills in order to succeed in workplace problem solving. However, it is unclear how engineering students, who will become professionals in the workplace after graduation, experience real world engineering problem solving. Motivated by a desire to better understand engineering problems and prepare students for engineering practice, this study aims to explore students' experiences of workplace problems solving. As previous research points out that educational programs such as the Co-Op program provide opportunities for students to observe and experience engineering in the workplace and prepare them with workplace competencies, in this study, we interviewed 22 engineering Co-Op students about their problem solving experiences and explored: what are the different ways in which Co-Op students experience workplace problem solving? In order to answer this question, we conducted a phenomenographic analysis on our interview transcripts to capture the variation in students' experiences. The analysis results show that students experienced workplace problem solving in six different ways, which are: 1) workplace problem solving is following orders and executing the plan; 2) workplace problem solving is implementing customers' ideas and satisfying customer needs; 3) workplace problem solving is using mathematical and technical knowledge and skills to solve technical problems; 4) workplace problem solving is consulting different people and collecting their inputs; 5) workplace problem solving is using multiple resources to draw conclusions and make decisions; 6) workplace problem solving is exploration and freedom.
ACCESSION #
115955327

 

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