High school students' use of paper based and Internet based information sources in the engineering design process

Jon T Pieper, Purdue University


The purpose of this study was to develop a better understanding of how high school students gather information when solving an engineering based design problem. This study looked at the amount of time students use paper based information sources compared to internet based sources. Additionally, the study looked at what specific types of information students gathered from printed based and internet based sources. This descriptive study follows many of the same procedures that have been used in past studies (Atman, Chimka, Bursic, Nachtmann, 1999; Atman et al., 2007; Adams, Turns, and Atman, 2003; Atman, Kilgore, McKenna, 2008). Data was collected from 12 different high school students while they worked through an engineering design task. Results showed that students spent 38% of their time gathering information during the design session. Of that 38%, students relied on paper based sources 10% of the time. On average, students requested 19.8 pieces of information, with information on material cost being requested most frequently.




Menzter, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Secondary education|Engineering|Educational technology|Information science

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