Engineering is a practical discipline, dedicated to the solution of problems through the sound application of principles derived from the natural sciences and mathematics. Engineering pedagogy has therefore to balance the need for learners to gain a deep understanding of the theoretical basis of the problem domain whilst grasping its practical implications. However, little is known as to the most effective sequence of delivery: is it better to begin with theory and build up to practice or vice versa? Here, we present the idea of testing this through a carefully designed pedagogical experiment. We begin by discussing the issues around the creation of a pedagogical experiment to answer such a question, and define the nature and scope of such experiments. We then create a formal framework within which such questions can be tested and present an experiment in the domain of architectural engineering that pilots this new approach. Finally, we discuss the utility of using such a framework to lead evidence-based discussions of pedagogical practice within the engineering education literature, and conclude that similar experiments could be, and should be, completed by other teams wanting to examine delivery order or other binary choice situations.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Technology and Design Education
Publication statusPublished - 19 Apr 2020


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