Student perceptions on a collaborative engineering design course

G. van Helden*, B.T.C. Zandbergen, M.M. Specht, E.K.A. Gill

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review

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To adequately prepare engineering students for their professional career, educational institutions offer projects in which students collaboratively solve engineering design problems. It is known from research these projects can lead to a variety of learning outcomes and student experiences. However, studies that provide insights in the influence of different features of an educational design are rare. In the current study we use Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) as analytical framework to understand how different elements of an educational design affect students’ experience. Additionally, we use the notion of contradictions to identify opportunities for structural course improvement. Focus groups were conducted with 12 Master students in Aerospace Engineering, that participated in a collaborative engineering design course. During the course, students applied Systems Engineering (SE) and Concurrent Engineering (CE) and worked in the Collaborative Design Laboratory (CDL), which is a state-of-the-art facility that holds a variety of industry relevant tools. It was found that students valued the guidance of their coach and experts, co-located collaboration and the freedom to structure their own process. However, they perceived challenges with regard to adoption of tools in the CDL, sharing their progress with their supervisor, coordination of collaborative efforts and scheduling issues. An analysis using CHAT revealed what contradictions caused these challenges. Finally, recommendations are given on how course structure can be structurally improved.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 50th Annual Conference Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya · BarcelonaTech (UPC)
EditorsHannu-Matti Jarvinen, Santiago Silvestre, Ariadna Llorens, Balazs Vince Nagy
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9788412322262
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Event50th Annual Conference of The European Society for Engineering Education - Barcelona, Spain
Duration: 19 Sep 202222 Sep 2022
Conference number: 50

Publication series

NameSEFI 2022 - 50th Annual Conference of the European Society for Engineering Education, Proceedings


Conference50th Annual Conference of The European Society for Engineering Education
Abbreviated titleSEFI 2022


  • focus groups
  • course design
  • team based learning
  • project based learning
  • learning technology

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