Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Engineering Education

Committee Chair(s)

Oenardi Lawanto


Amy Alexandra Wilson-Lopez


Ning Fang


Edward M. Reeve


Wade H. Goodridge


In 2013, developers of the Next Generation Science Standards implemented national K -12 directives and elevated engineering design to the level of scientific inquiry. Teaching design, however, is challenging to educators due to the complex nature of design problems, which cannot be solved via simple algorithms. Solving design problems requires a more reflective and iterative approach that emphasizes metacognitive skills like planning, monitoring, and taking another person’s perspective. Educators are further challenged by children’s immature metacognitive skills, which may be insufficient to engage in the entire design process.

A qualitative study of paired seventh graders demonstrated a pragmatic learning activity for enhancing adolescent designs during their earliest phases through guided peer interactions with metacognitive prompts. Four distinct interaction styles were observed among the pairs. Each style varied by which verbal and social phenomena were used to make changes. The metacognitive prompts used in the learning activity can be adapted to any design challenge.

Furthermore, an additional, exploratory case demonstrated a restructuring of the learning activity in which the metacognitive prompts were generated naturally by the students themselves. The student-generated prompts were design-specific and timely; delivered in the moment when a student was struggling with a design element. The result was a dynamic co-construction and co-ownership of the designs.