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Nicholas Fila, Steven Abramsky & Seda McKilligan

Author: Heather Sauer | Image: Heather Sauer

“How engineering educators use heuristics when designing a sophomore-level embedded systems course,” a research paper written by Nicholas Fila, an Iowa State University postdoctoral researcher in industrial design and electrical and computer engineering; Steven Abramsky, a junior in industrial design, and Seda McKilligan, an associate professor in industrial design, has been accepted by the 125th Annual Conference of the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE). The paper presents a case study of the cognitive heuristics used by a cross-functional instructional design team as they modified a second-year embedded systems course for electrical and computer engineering students.

This empirical study suggests there are specific heuristics for finding a problem and transforming it into a set of alternative solutions or approaches to take. These heuristics capture alternative perspectives and differing levels of scopes that may lead to more varied and innovative curriculum design strategies. These results identify specific ways educators discover challenges and provide needed content knowledge for implementing potential solutions. The results also suggest ways of developing tools for educators of various levels to improve their teaching practices, potentially leading to more creative curriculum designs.

This research is funded by the National Science Foundation’s Improving Undergraduation STEM Education / Professional Formation of Engineers: REvolutionizing engineering and computer science Departments (IUSE/PFE: RED).