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An evaluation of an instructional system for engineering task estimation

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4 Author(s)
J. S. Busby ; Sch. of Ind. & Manuf. Sci., Cranfield Univ., Bedford, UK ; K. Payne ; J. Scamans ; R. E. Hibberd

As a result of prior research into the estimating and planning skills of experienced engineers, a number of observable goal-directed expert practices were identified. A computer assisted learning package was developed to teach these to less experienced, practicing engineers. The primary teaching mechanism required the learner to infer how alternative practices differed. This was reinforced both by demonstrating practices in analogous domains, and by showing learners how different practices make different assumptions about the task environment. An evaluation program was conducted with 35 participants in nine organizations, with a number of findings. Individual differences occurred in a variety of ways and proved problematic both for the design of the interface and that of the learning mechanisms. Learners' preconceptions were also problematic in some instances, but seem to be unavoidable in teaching empirical practices to experienced learners. Nonetheless the learning mechanisms worked well, except in isolated instances, particularly the use of analogies. Analogies appeared to be effective both in helping learners transfer practices between everyday tasks and engineering estimation tasks, and in helping them reflect on their current practices

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Education  (Volume:43 ,  Issue: 1 )