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We are developing model eliciting activities (MEAs) for use in undergraduate engineering education to enhance problem solving ability as well as to provide a means for assessment. The MEA construct, originally developed by math educators, involves a student team developing an analytical model to solve a real-world, open-ended engineering problem and providing formal documentation of the solution procedure for reusability. As we extend these to juniors and seniors, we are evolving both the process and the constructs. In order to study the relationship of MEAs to the problem solving process, we are assessing this process using handheld electronic devices (PDAs) and work measurement software, which capture the predefined steps taken by the students. We have completed a pilot study using PDAs, which showed this approach to be feasible. The design of the pilot study, lessons learned, data obtained, and outcomes requiring additional investigation will be discussed. Much of the data showed a progression through multiple steps of the problem solving process in sequential order.
Date of Conference: 22-25 Oct. 2008