Design is a decision-making process. Designers make decisions between alternative solutions,decisions about feasibility of individual solutions, decisions about narrowing or broadening the problem scope. They also make logistical decision about when teams will meet, how decisions will be made. Recent analysis of high school student design activities revealed that groups and individuals are not spending much time on decision processes and it can be assumed that the faculties of beginning college students are in a similar vein. In the past year changes were made to a freshman level design thinking course to improve student approaches to decision making.Accompanying these changes, the instructors, as researchers, have attempted to understand student decision processes in order to improve instruction.This paper will discuss the development of an instrument to help evaluate student decision priorities. Understanding and measuring the decision processes among group decisions poses challenges. Based on an initial review of the literature, an instrument to measure group design decisions was not identified. Literature was reviewed to identify elements of effective design decisions as well as useable items from existing instruments. Literature on effective strategies for decision-making in related fields of study. The survey instrument developed included 16 questions about decision processes that related to four proposed latent constructs. Prior to administration of the instrument, a team of teacher educators and educational researchers provided feedback on content validity. The survey was administered to 218 students following reflection on a group design project at the end of the semester.Using exploratory factor analysis (EFA), several results are elucidated. By focusing only on questions in the survey relevant to decision processes, a nascent model was formed with 13 indicators loading on three factors (6, 4, and 4 questions respectively, with one item weakly cross-loading). The model explains 61.814% of the variation in the items and each factor has strong internal consistency as measured by Cronbach’s alpha (α = .898, α = .877, and α = .80).The accompanying results also support a new survey instrument for understanding sources of design decision processes revolving around the three factors: processing data, considering alternatives, and understanding decisions.The model is currently undergoing confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) in a 670 student sample,which will be completed in December 2014. The CFA process may confirm the suggested model as well as evaluate its validity through convergence and discrimination with appropriate metrics of group behavior. Once confirmed, this model could be used in other environments to gauge the ubiquity of these constructs. Regardless of these results however, these findings provide focus areas for subsequent instructional design based on student perceptions of group decision-making processes.


Abstract pulled from ASEE Peer website (https://peer.asee.org/factors-of-group-design-decision-making).

Permanent URL: https://peer.asee.org/24098


Course redesign; Engineering education; Design activities; Assessment; Group activities and decision-making

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