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Journal of Engineering Education
written by Floraliza Bornasal, Shane Brown, Natasha Perova-Mello, and Kacey Beddoes
Concepts are defined generally as fundamental principles or global understandings specific to a field of expertise. Theories of situated cognition suggest that concepts may not have uniform meaning or representation in a particular social setting. The goal of this study was to investigate the process by which practicing engineers come to understand and use concepts in the context of their work. A researcher conducted ethnographic fieldwork at a private consulting engineering firm. Data sources included (a) field notes obtained via participant observation, (b) transcripts from interviews, and (c) artifacts collected on site. Five emergent themes from the data are presented: 1) engineers identify constraints before they apply concepts; 2) engineers address project constraints by contextualizing abstract features of concepts; 3) engineers expand individual understanding of the concept by engaging in social negotiation of meaning; 4) concepts have multiple representations in engineering practice; and 5) engineers use material resources to efficiently address complex processes and problems associated with engineering concepts. These themes were analyzed using situative perspective to develop a model of conceptual growth in engineering practice. Findings suggest that student learning experiences should deliberately highlight the role of engineering concepts in the often ill-structured engineering problems present in authentic engineering work. Specific suggestions for incorporating the model into engineering education are offered as are directions for future research.
Journal of Engineering Education: Volume 107, Issue 2, Pages 318-348
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Education - Basic Research
- Cognition
= Cognition Development
- Problem Solving
= Frameworks
= Metacognition
General Physics
- Scientific Reasoning
Other Sciences
- Engineering
- Upper Undergraduate
- Lower Undergraduate
- Reference Material
= Research study
PER-Central Types Intended Users Ratings
- Curriculum
- Curriculum / Research Instrument
- Administrators
- Researchers
- Educators
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© 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
ISSN Number:
context-rich education, engineering practices, sense making
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created July 6, 2022 by Lauren Bauman
Record Updated:
July 27, 2022 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
July 17, 2018
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Record Link
AIP Format
F. Bornasal, S. Brown, N. Perova-Mello, and K. Beddoes, , J. Eng. Educ. 107 (2), 318 (2018), WWW Document, (https://doi.org/10.1002/jee.20196).
F. Bornasal, S. Brown, N. Perova-Mello, and K. Beddoes, Conceptual Growth in Engineering Practice, J. Eng. Educ. 107 (2), 318 (2018), <https://doi.org/10.1002/jee.20196>.
APA Format
Bornasal, F., Brown, S., Perova-Mello, N., & Beddoes, K. (2018, July 17). Conceptual Growth in Engineering Practice. J. Eng. Educ., 107(2), 318-348. Retrieved October 3, 2022, from https://doi.org/10.1002/jee.20196
Chicago Format
Bornasal, F, S. Brown, N. Perova-Mello, and K. Beddoes. "Conceptual Growth in Engineering Practice." J. Eng. Educ. 107, no. 2, (July 17, 2018): 318-348, https://doi.org/10.1002/jee.20196 (accessed 3 October 2022).
MLA Format
Bornasal, Floraliza, Shane Brown, Natasha Perova-Mello, and Kacey Beddoes. "Conceptual Growth in Engineering Practice." J. Eng. Educ. 107.2 (2018): 318-348. 3 Oct. 2022 <https://doi.org/10.1002/jee.20196>.
BibTeX Export Format
@article{ Author = "Floraliza Bornasal and Shane Brown and Natasha Perova-Mello and Kacey Beddoes", Title = {Conceptual Growth in Engineering Practice}, Journal = {J. Eng. Educ.}, Volume = {107}, Number = {2}, Pages = {318-348}, Month = {July}, Year = {2018} }
Refer Export Format

%A Floraliza Bornasal %A Shane Brown %A Natasha Perova-Mello %A Kacey Beddoes %T Conceptual Growth in Engineering Practice %J J. Eng. Educ. %V 107 %N 2 %D July 17, 2018 %P 318-348 %U https://doi.org/10.1002/jee.20196 %O text/html

EndNote Export Format

%0 Journal Article %A Bornasal, Floraliza %A Brown, Shane %A Perova-Mello, Natasha %A Beddoes, Kacey %D July 17, 2018 %T Conceptual Growth in Engineering Practice %J J. Eng. Educ. %V 107 %N 2 %P 318-348 %8 July 17, 2018 %@ 1069-4730 %U https://doi.org/10.1002/jee.20196

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