Ruth A. Streveler is an assistant professor in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She holds a B.A. in Biology from Indiana University, a M.S. in Zoology from The Ohio State University and a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Prior to coming to Purdue, she was the founding director of the Center for Engineering Education at the Colorado School of Mines. She has been a co-PI on several projects funded by the National Science Foundation and served a stint as acting director of the Center for the Advancement of Engineering Education. She earned the 2006 and 2007 Helen Plants Awards for best non-traditional session at the Frontiers in Education Conference.
Learning Conceptual Knowledge in the Engineering Sciences: Overview and Future Research Directions
Article first published online: 2 JAN 2013
2008 American Society for Engineering Education
Journal of Engineering Education
Volume 97, Issue 3, pages 279–294, July 2008
How to Cite
Streveler, R. A., Litzinger, T. A., Miller, R. L. and Steif, P. S. (2008), Learning Conceptual Knowledge in the Engineering Sciences: Overview and Future Research Directions. Journal of Engineering Education, 97: 279–294. doi: 10.1002/j.2168-9830.2008.tb00979.x
- Issue published online: 2 JAN 2013
- Article first published online: 2 JAN 2013
- conceptual change;
- conceptual knowledge;
- student understanding
Learning conceptual knowledge in engineering science is a critical element in the development of competence and expertise in engineering. To date, however, research on conceptual learning in engineering science has been limited. Therefore, this article draws heavily on fundamental research by cognitive psychologists and applied research by science educators to provide a background on fundamental issues in the field and methods for assessing conceptual knowledge. Some of the most common conceptual difficulties from three domains: mechanics, thermal science and direct current electricity, are discussed to provide concrete examples of what students find difficult to learn. The article concludes with a discussion of possible sources of these difficulties, implications for instruction, and suggestions for future research.