Implementing and Assessing the Converging-Diverging Model of Design in a Sequence of Sophomore Projects

Dahm, Kevin; Riddell, William; Constans, Eric; Courtney, Jennifer; Harvey, Roberta; von Lockette, Paris
February 2009
Advances in Engineering Education;2009, Vol. 1 Issue 3, p1
Academic Journal
This paper discusses a sophomore-level course that teaches engineering design and technical writing. Historically, the course was taught using semester-long design projects. Most students' overall approach to design problems left considerable room for improvement. Many teams chose a design without investigating alternatives, and important decisions were made without a quantitative analysis. The faculty team addressed this shortcoming by 1) replacing the semester-long project with a sequence of design projects, and 2) presenting a converging-diverging approach to design, modeled after a paper by Dym et al. [1] Students were required to document their design approach in detail, showing specific evidence of divergent design and convergent design and specific rationale for the final decisions resulting from these processes. This paper explains the convergent-divergent design model, provides a description of the design projects, and presents a comparative assessment that demonstrates the new course organization led to dramatic improvement in student performance.


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