Task interpretation and self-regulating strategies in engineering design project: An exploratory study

Oenardi Lawanto, Wade H. Goodridge, Harry Budi Santoso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Design tasks are ubiquitous, complex, ill-structured, and challenging to students and professional engineering designers. Successful designing depends on having not only adequate knowledge but also sufficient awareness and control of that knowledge, known as metacognition. Research suggests that metacognition not only enhances learning outcomes but also encourages students to be self-regulated learners who are metacognitively, motivationally, and behaviorally active participants in their learning process. This article evaluates the extent to which students' task interpretation of the design project is reflected in their working plans and monitoring/regulating strategies. Butler and Cartier's Self- Regulated Learning (SRL) model was used to evaluate the dynamic and iterative interplay between metacognitive and cognitive activity. SRL dimensions such as design process, task management, task value, and criteria of success were evaluated. Twelve freshman engineering students at Utah State University participated in the study while they engaged in an engineering design project for a mechanical engineering course, "Engineering Graphics." Students were asked to complete the Engineering Design Questionnaire (EDQ) at the early, middle, and final stages of the project. Data collected were evaluated quantitatively and qualitatively using graphical views. In addition, the mean value of each item from the same SRL dimension was compared across SRL episodes (i.e., task interpretation, planning strategies, cognitive strategies, monitoring and fix-up strategies, and criteria). From the analysis, the findings suggest that the level of understanding of the task was clearly reflected in students' plans with particular emphasis on getting a good overview of the design task at the early stage of the project. Students were found to be lacking in the areas of planning the methods used and anticipating the time required to solve the design task at the early stage of the project. Overall, students excelled in monitoring and regulating the design process and task management, although lower scores were found on several activities, such as seeking alternative approaches to investigating the problem, design solution, time planning, and the effective use of resources and materials during the project. When regarding their criteria of success, students considered task management issues to be more important than issues relating to the design process.

Original languageEnglish
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Engineering Design
  • Metacognition
  • Self-Regulated Learning


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