Traffic Signal System Misconceptions Across Three Cohorts: Novice Students, Expert Students, and Practicing Engineers Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/articles/m613n029s

This is an author's peer-reviewed final manuscript, as accepted by the publisher. The published article is copyrighted by the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies and can be found at:  http://www.trb.org/Publications/PubsTRRJournal.aspx

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  • Theories of situated knowledge and research evidence suggest that students are not prepared for the engineering workforce upon graduation from engineering programs. Concept inventory results from diverse fields suggest that students do not understand fundamental engineering, mathematics, and science concepts. These two concerns may result from different knowledge deficiencies; one from lack of conceptual understanding and the other from lack of applied knowledge. The research goals of this paper are to identify misconceptions, knowledge about phenomena that are persistent and incorrect, related to traffic signal operations and design in novice and expert engineering students and practicing engineering and to attempt to explain the patterns in misconceptions across these three cohorts. Results indicate three patterns (decreasing, increasing, and no change) of misconceptions across the three cohorts considered in this study (novice students, expert students, and practicing engineers). The pattern of decreasing misconception can be explained by a traditional model of learning that suggests improved understanding with additional instruction and student time on task. The pattern of increasing misconception appeared for concepts that were particularly complex and confounded, where practicing engineers produced much more complex answers that were mostly correct, but made leaps and speculations not yet proven in the literature. Misconception frequencies that stayed the same tended to include topics that do not have required national standards or that are buried in automated processes. The process of identifying and documenting misconceptions that exist across these cohorts is a necessary step in the development of data driven curriculum. An example of a conceptual exercise developed from four misconceptions identified in this study is also demonstrated.
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  • Hurwitz, D. S., Brown, S., Islam, M., Daratha, K., & Kyte, M. (2014). Traffic signal system misconceptions across three cohorts: Novice students, expert students, and practicing engineers. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, 2414, 52-62. doi:10.3141/2414-07
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