Triangulation of three different research methods when capturing participant data during engineering education

Jani Kalasniemi, Joona Kurikka, Lauri Repokari

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review


Designing new products and further developing existing products has become increasingly important for today's industry. Therefore, engineering education has been extending from theoretical education towards hands-on, challenging projectbased education. The aim is to teach students real-life problem-solving skills along with communication and teamwork skills, which are also essential in the future working environment after graduation. Tracking this learning experience efficiently is one of the critical steps for improving it. And industry around the world is increasingly interested and has incentives in measuring the effectiveness of the design process and the design team, as commercial product development and R&D are expensive, risky, and time-consuming. In the experiment conducted in January 2016 in Geneva, Switzerland, the participants were from four different European countries and from several different study backgrounds. Most of them were participating the experiment as an elective part of their postgraduate studies. The teams were challenged with a task to build a robot which communicates with the user, is easy to use, moves independently, and should be able to express four distinct emotions. The challenge lasted for 4 days and 4 hours. Data was collected and analyzed by using three different research methods; time-lapse images, time-tracking software operated by the coaches individually, and written coach notes. The teams were tracked with eight time-lapse cameras and time tracker data was collected with software installed to coaches' mobile phones. Coaches also made handwritten notes after each student interaction to elaborate details about the encountered issues. To synchronize with other methods, the notes also included a timestamp when the coach had helped the team. Time-tracking data from coaches showed in detail, how much time the coaches had spent with the teams. There were only a few times when a coach made a mistake by forgetting to start or stop the timer. Without the alternative methods, this information would be quite hard to analyze since one could only see the duration of the session and time when it happened. Handwritten notes, on the other hand, did give an enormous amount of additional qualitative information about what kind of problems the teams were facing in their challenge. The outcome of the study is that none of the three methods proved to be superior, but each one of them brings up useful data for future studies when combined. The paper will introduce detailed recommendations in building and updating such a measurement setup in a dedicated working space and analyze the gathered data in more detail.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2017 ASEE annual conference & exposition proceedings
PublisherAmerican Society for Engineering Education
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jun 2017
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventASEE Annual Conference - Columbus, United States
Duration: 24 Jun 201728 Jun 2017
Conference number: 124

Publication series

NameASEE annual conference & exposition proceedings
PublisherAmerican Society for Engineering Education
ISSN (Print)2153-5965
ISSN (Electronic)2153-5868


ConferenceASEE Annual Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States


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