Assessment of student learning is a challenging issue in courses onEngineering and technology for non-engineers. Equally challenging is finding effective methods to communicate central features of technological systems to a diverse student audience with limited background knowledge. Methods of assessment are needed that extend beyond questions that can be answered by memorization but do not require extensive prerequisite mathematical knowledge.Communication or explanation of how technical systems work requires a method that can represent a diverse range of technological products but that non-engineers can learn to use in a limited amount of time. The technique of concept mapping has been adapted to this purpose. Concept mapping provides a visual method of demonstrating the relationships that exist between the component parts of a larger body of information. Such a feature is well-suited for explaining technical systems. In one application concept mapping is combined with aspects of theEngineering design technique of functional analysis or functional decomposition to create a method that non-engineers can use to describe or explain how a technical system works. Another application is reported that illustrates how concept maps can be used to help nonengineering students transfer understanding of underlying principles from one technical system to another.
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