USING ENGINEERING DESIGN PROJECT JOURNALS TO INFER INDIVIDUAL ACTIVITY AND ASSESS TEAM BEHAVIOR
Born, Werner Christian
Schmidt, Linda C
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Design is critical to our society and yet we still do not understand a great deal about the underlying processes which occur as the engineering designer solves a problem. Analyzing such information could provide a wealth of insight on not only how design works but also how individuals work design. Concurrently maintained design journals kept by mechanical engineering students enrolled in capstone design courses offer a rich avenue to explore this phenomena. By applying a classification scheme to design journals, the entries of design activity of both individuals and teams were analyzed to determine relative time on each activity. These proportions were then examined across multiple project intervals defined by key deliverable dates in addition to across the project as a whole. Recurring sequences within these activities were also identified. Beyond the use of the classification scheme, other aspects of design journal analysis were explored. Specific concepts were tracked across a team, which were also used to calculate ratios of how often a member of a team references concepts by their teammates, themselves, and the final concept. With the addition of entry dates this information will also be used to map the exchange of ideas across a team and to chart the life of each concept. Journal content was codified and tested. Discoveries were made not only about the activity frequencies but how much those frequencies varied from person to person and team to team. The most common activity recorded in journals was Analysis, which averaged 23.13% of journal segments. Students were moderately accurate at identifying the frequency of Analysis and Reflection work. The most common sequences of unique activity were Idea Generation and Analysis along with its reverse. There were 3 distinct patterns of how individual behavior related to team members. 3 of 13 teams examined had uniform proportions of activity, while at the other extreme another 7 teams had little to no uniformity. The three activity classes found to be most affected by a project's time line were Problem Understanding, Idea Generation, and Decision Making, which each were found to have a statistically significant change in recorded activity over time.