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MS Thesis Defense – Sean Gestson

Title: Problem Solving Personas of Civil Engineering Practitioners
using Eye Tracking Techniques. 

Committee members: Shane Brown, associate professor of engineering education; Mike O'Malley, senior instructor, College of Education (GCR); David Nembhard, professor of industrial engineering; Dan Cox, professor of coastal and ocean engineering.

Abstract: Engineering practitioners solve problems in various ways; it is plausible that they often rely on graphs, figures, formulas and other representations to reach a solution. How and why engineering practitioners use representations to solve problems can characterize certain problem-solving behaviors, which can be used to determine particular types of problem solvers. The purpose of this research was to determine the relationship between time spent referring to various representations and the justifications for the decisions made during the problem-solving process of engineering practitioners. A persona-based approach was used to characterize the problem-solving behavior of 16 engineering practitioners. Utilizing eye tracking and retrospective interview techniques, the problem-solving process of engineering practitioners was explored. Eye tracking data records the glance patterns of an engineering practitioner which were used to quantify the use of a representation during problem solving. The retrospective interview data presents a qualitative understanding of engineering practitioner’s decision making and problem-solving justifications. Three unique problem-solver personas were developed that describe the behaviors of engineering practitioners. A committed problem solver is described as a confident and purposeful problem solver who remains committed to their solution approach. An evaluative problem solver often uses more than one approach to solve the problem and are described as less confident. An indecisive problem solver has difficulty determining an approach to a problem and will often use multiple approaches and abandon their efforts in search of the most simplistic approach. The three personas suggest that there are different types of engineering practitioner problem solvers. Understanding more about how the differences between problem solvers affect the way they approach a problem and engage with the material presents a more holistic view of the problem-solving process of engineering practitioners.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019 at 1:00pm to 3:00pm

Kearney Hall, 311
1491 SW Campus Way, Corvallis, OR 97331

Event Type

Lecture or Presentation

Event Topic



Faculty and Staff, Student

Civil and Construction Engineering
Contact Name

Michelle McAllaster

Contact Email

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