Factors influencing student success on open-ended design problems


design assessment, adaptive comparative judgement, technology education


Open-ended design problems have become an important component in our educational landscape (Grubbs and Strimel in J STEM Teach Educ 50(1):77–90, 2015; Jonassen et al. in J Eng Educ 95:139–151, 2006; National Research Council in Education for life and work: developing transferable knowledge and skills in the 21st Century, National Academies Press, Washington, 2012; Strimel in Technol Eng Teach 73(7):8–18, 2014a). The ability of students to confront open-ended problem scenarios, think creatively, and produce novel designs have all been lauded as necessary skills for today’s twenty first century learners (Partnership for 21st Century Skills in P21 framework definitions, Author, Washington, 2016). This emphasis on open-ended design problems in problem-based learning scenarios has been tied to workforce and higher education preparation for students (National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council in STEM integration in K–12 education: status, prospects, and an agenda for research, National Academies Press, Washington, 2014; National Research Council in Engineering in K–12 education: understanding the status and improving the prospects, National Academies Press, Washington, 2009; Strimel in Technol Eng Teach 73(5):16–24, 2014b). However, little research has been conducted to identify the impact of potentially-influential factors on student success in such open-ended design scenarios. Therefore, the researchers examined data from 706 middle school students, working in small groups, as they completed an open-ended design challenge to determine the relationships between a variety of potentially-influential factors and student performance, as measured through adaptive comparative judgment. The analysis of the data revealed several relationships, significant and not significant, between identified variables and student success on open-ended design challenges.

Original Publication Citation

Bartholomew, S. R., & Strimel, G. J. (2017). Factors influencing student success on open-ended design problems. International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 28(3), 753–770.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



International Journal of Technology and Design Education




Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology



University Standing at Time of Publication

Assistant Professor