Reflection and Metacognition in Capstone Design
Reflection is a valuable skill that is not immediately familiar to many of our students. Our faculty team has introduced systematic reflection in a two-semester multidisciplinary engineering design course at the United States Military Academy at West Point. A course goal is to produce engineers competent in designing with current technologies who are able to anticipate and to respond to change. Because a key component of the course has always been the assessment of the design against the requirements, we chose to augment the design process with multiple opportunities for reflection. This year’s course consists of 18 capstone project teams with a total of 112 students. The teams range from triples of computing majors to over a dozen students from six different majors and four different departments. Reflection periods occur several times throughout the academic year, not just at the end. Some reflection consists of periods of silence spent individually. Other reflection takes place in the context of lively group discussions. These techniques were developed by the authors, a team of three faculty who have co-taught this course for several years and who wanted our students to pursue deeper, more creative solutions to problems, to form more cohesive teams, to be more deliberate in their decision-making and to avoid the last-minute rush to completion right before the final demonstrations. These reflection exercises have been introduced over the last three years and have resulted in a marked improvement in the pace and quality of student work. Students were more engaged with the project. They developed more insightful or creative designs, formulated better relationships within their team, and demonstrated a deeper understanding of their product and how it satisfies customer requirements.
Shay, L. A., & Estes, T. T., & Harvie, D. P. (2019, June), Reflection and Metacognition in Capstone Design Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33229