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Problem-Based Learning pedagogies that require high levels of inquiry and hands-on engagement can enhance student learning in engineering. Such pedagogies lie at the core of studio-based design education, having been used to teach architects since the Renaissance. Today, design assignments and studio-based learning formats are finding their way into engineering programs, often as part of larger movements to implement Student-Centered, Problem-Based Learning (PBL) pedagogies. This spectrum of pedagogies is mutually supportive, as illustrated in the University of Michigan’s SmartSurfaces course where students majoring in engineering, art and design, and architecture collaborate on wickedly complex and ill-defined design problems. In SmartSurfaces and other similar PBL environments, students encounter complex, trans-disciplinary, open-ended design prompts that have timely social relevance. Analyzing data generated in studio-based PBL courses like SmartSurfaces can help educators evaluate and track students’ intellectual growth. This paper presents a rubric for measuring students’ development of increasingly refined epistemological understanding (regarding knowledge and how it is created, accessed, and used). The paper illustrates use of the tool in evaluating blogs created by students in SmartSurfaces, which in turn provides evidence to help validate the rubric and suggest avenues for future refinement. The overall result of the exploratory study reported here is to provide evidence of positive change among students who learn in PBL environments and to provide educators with a preliminary tool for assessing design-related epistemological development. Findings of this study indicate design-based education can have powerful effects and collaborating across disciplines can help engineering students advance in valuable ways.
Chance, S., Marshall, J. and Duffy, G. (2016) Using Architecture Design Studio Pedagogies to Enhance Engineering Education. International Journal of Engineering Education Vol. 32, No. 1(B), pp. 364–383, 2016. doi:10.21427/D7V62S