Research Grants Fuel Educational Innovation

Through seven recent NSF grants, ENE faculty are pursuing cyber-enabled teacher development, student-teamwork management systems, collaborative research methods, graphical user interface systems for student problem-solving, new pedagogical approaches to student modeling activities, and more.





ADVANCE-IT: Purdue Center for Faculty Success

$3,925,625 from NSF over 5 years (2008-13)


PI: France Córdova (President)

Co-PIs: Alice Pawley (ENE), Valentine Moghadam (Women's Studies), Dorothy Reed (Assistant provost)


The Purdue Center for Faculty Success (PCFS) will provide targeted research, programs and university-level coordination to increase the number of minority women in STEM faculty positions; improve the success of all women STEM faculty; and engage all faculty in transforming the institution. The PCFS will combine NSF and institutional support to undertake research on the applicability of specific theoretical models in the Purdue environment, develop programs informed by these theoretical models and that focus on gaps in our current portfolio of initiatives, and provide formative assessment and comprehensive evaluation of programmatic impacts.  PCFS efforts will not only advance understanding of the applicability of pipeline and chilly climate models that ground so many "women in science" initiatives but will explore through institutional ethnography the applicability of proposed new models that integrate "boundary" metaphor approaches for exploring women's underrepresentation.  Thus PCFS research will generate new knowledge and advance theoretical frameworks that will be of interest to theorists and ADVANCE programs across the nation.



R&D: Quality Cyber-Enabled, Engineering Education Professional Development to Support Teacher Change and Student Achievement (E2PD)

Recommended by NSF for $2,999,450 over 5 years (2008-13); $571,368 is in hand from NSF for year 1 


PI: Heidi Diefes-Dux (ENE)

Co-PIs: Sean Brophy (ENE), Johannes Strobel (ENE), Monica Cardella (ENE)


Through this research, the face-to-face workshops used in Purdue's INSPIRE program are extended through cyber-infrastructure with the use of video-based mentoring in real time and an asynchronous learning experience. A learning progression, based on the Engineering is Elementary and model-eliciting mathematics materials, is developed for elementary school teachers to increase their ability to adapt and refine engineering learning materials in their classrooms. Existing assessment instruments will be revised and new ones developed, as necessary, to measure the impact of the professional development that includes engineering on teacher, student, administrator and parent knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors about engineering and engineering education.



SMARTER Teamwork: System for Management, Assessment, Research, Training, Education, and Remediation for Teamwork

$2,000,000 from NSF over 5 years (2008-13)


PI: Matt Ohland (ENE)

Co-PIs: David J. Woehr (University of Tennessee), Eduardo Salas (University of Central Florida), Misty Loughry (Georgia Southern University), Richard Layton (Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology)


This work will create a complete system for the management of teamwork in undergraduate education and disseminate information about the system to university faculty. The system has three specific goals: (1) to equip students to work in teams by providing them with training and feedback, (2) to equip faculty to manage teams by providing them with information and tools to facilitate best practices, and (3) to equip the research team to better understand teamwork.



Collaborative Research: Expanding and sustaining research capacity in engineering and technology education:

Building on successful programs for faculty and graduate students

$2,000,000 total ($967,638 to Purdue) from NSF (CCLI Phase III) over 3 years (2008-11)


Purdue is the lead institution in this collaborative project.

Partner institutions are Alverno College, Colorado School of Mines, Howard University, Madison Area Technical College, and the National Academy of Engineering.


PI: Ruth Streveler (ENE)

Co-PIs: Robin Adams (ENE), Karl Smith (ENE)


This project addresses the continued need for developing engineering education researchers. Project objectives are to: (1) Design and deliver a new generation of programs to educate engineering and engineering technology faculty and graduate students to conduct and use educational research which are effective, flexible, inclusive, and sustainable after funding ends. (2) Foster a virtual community of engineering and engineering technology education researchers through the use of Purdue nanoHUB-based technology.



Graphical Representations to Assess System Performance (GRASP)

$500,000 from NSF over 3 years (2008-11)


PI: Sean Brophy (ENE)

Co-PIs: Matthew Ohland (ENE), Daniel DeLaurentis (AAE), James Mohler (Computer Graphics Technology), Larry Howard (Vanderbilt Dept. of EE and Computer Science)


The aim of this proposal is to construct and research an automated dynamic formative assessment environment that develops and measures students' ability to represent, identify and explain solutions to complex problems. This research provides the foundation for our design of a flexible interactive graphical user interface system that is accessible to a large user base.



Formative Feedback: Impacting the Quality of First-Year Engineering Student Work on Modeling Activities

$486,740 from NSF over 3 years (2008-11)


PI: Heidi Diefes-Dux (ENE)

Co-PI: Monica Cardella (ENE)


This project will contribute to the research on engineering learning mechanisms by designing and investigating the impact of pedagogical approaches on the quality of students' solutions to complex mathematical modeling problems and developing guidelines for providing effective formative feedback on students' modeling work. Mathematical model-eliciting activities (MEAs), based on the models and modeling theoretical framework, provide engineering students with opportunities to engage in solving complex problems and develop teaming and communication skills. Pedagogical approaches are needed to improve instructor and peer feedback and help students learn to interpret and respond to feedback.



The Effect of Academic Policies on the Effectiveness and Efficiency of Achieving Student Outcomes

$150,000 from NSF over 1 year (2009)


PI: Matt Ohland (ENE)


The aim of this research is to develop a model of how academic policies (grade forgiveness, probation, suspension, etc.) and structure (process of articulating to engineering, credit loads, student-faculty ratio) affect academic efficiency as measured by graduation rates, time-to-graduation, and rates of course repetition.