Research Publications

March 18, 2022

Assessing learning processes rather than outcomes: using critical incidents to explore student learning abroad

There is an increasing emphasis on assessing student learning outcomes from study abroad experiences, but this assessment often focuses on a limited range of outcomes and assessment methods. We argue for shifting to assessing student learning processes in study abroad and present the critical incident technique as one approach to achieve this goal. We demonstrate this approach in interviews with 79 students across a range of global engineering programs, through which we identified 173 incidents which were analyzed to identify common themes. This analysis revealed that students described a wide range of experiences and outcomes from their time abroad. Students’ experiences were messy and complex, making them challenging to understand through typical assessment approaches. Our findings emphasize the importance of using a range of assessment approaches and suggest that exploring students’ learning processes in addition to learning outcomes could provide new insights to inform the design of study abroad programs.
February 2, 2022

Using transformative learning theory to explore student points of view in a second-year mechanical engineering design course: A collaborative action research approach

The goal of this work was to explore ways, within an existing engineering curriculum, to address the culture of disengagement by challenging the dominant engineering mindset. We conducted Collaborative Action Research to explore the implementation of Transformative Learning pedagogies in a Human-Centered Design context to understand how students make meaning of engineering contexts that involve unique sociotechnical considerations. Findings suggest that introducing students to such contexts allows them to use other points of view which can challenge the dominant engineering mindset and promote openness to the social nature of engineering, resulting in a more informed understanding of the nature of engineering overall.
January 8, 2022

Localized Engineering in Displacement: An Alternative Model for Out-of-School Youth and Refugee Students to Engineer their own Solutions for their own Communities.

Displaced learners, uprooted because of conflict, poverty, or other major traumas, are often shut out of opportunities to learn engineering. At the same time, fragile contexts demand engineers’ expertise, but experts and their engineered solutions are often called in from outside the community. In this article, we examine engineering learning as a vehicle for development in displaced communities by expanding the representation of engineers to explicitly include refugees and formerly homeless youth. We describe an alternative, co-created approach to providing authentic engineering learning through a framework called Localized Engineering in Displacement.
December 1, 2021

The role of the teaching assistant: Female role models in the classroom

We use a dataset of first-year engineering students from a selective research-intensive public university to examine the impact of same-gender teaching assistants on course grades and major field choice. Our sample consists of students who were randomly assigned to a section of an introductory engineering course and a graduate teaching assistant. Results suggest there may be small positive effects on course grades and the probability of majoring in a high-earning field for female students assigned to a female teaching assistant.
November 29, 2021

Do Chemists Need Education in Professional Ethics? Lessons from Engineering

Although professional chemists confront ethical issues in both research and industrial practice, professional ethics is not systematically integrated into chemistry degree programs in colleges and universities. Graduate students in chemistry who are supported by the US National Science Foundation and by the National Institutes of Health receive some training in the responsible conduct of research, but other aspects of professional ethics are generally ignored. By contrast, to meet accreditation criteria, undergraduate programs in engineering must include instruction in professional ethics. This chapter examines whether chemistry qualifies as a profession, compares codes of ethics for chemists with codes for engineers, summarizes current efforts in professional ethics education in chemistry and in engineering, and highlights some findings from research on engineering ethics education. Practices and research in engineering ethics education might provide models for chemistry ethics education.
November 23, 2021

The honeycomb of engineering framework: Philosophy of engineering guiding precollege engineering education

Understanding the nature of engineering is important for shaping engineering education, especially precollege education. While much research has established the pedagogical benefits of teaching engineering in kindergarten through 12th grade (K–12), the philosophical foundations of engineering remain under-examined. This conceptual paper introduces the honeycomb of engineering framework, which offers an epistemologically justified theoretical position and a pedagogical lens that can be used to examine ways engineering concepts and practices are taught in precollege education.
November 17, 2021

How do designers and engineers practice design while Making? A narrative inquiry of designers who Make

The purpose of this paper is to understand how designers and engineers practice design while Making. Motivated by their roots in constructionist learning principles, Makerspaces are increasingly used as sites to learn design, especially in undergraduate engineering education programs. However, there has been little work on how trained designers Make and how design emerges in their Maker practices.
October 25, 2021

A Sociocultural Learning Framework for Inclusive Pedagogy in Engineering

This paper describes a sociocultural learning framework for classroom inclusion based on research in three interconnected areas: learner identity, classroom context, and engineering culture. This paper is intended to serve as a resource for CEE authors to incorporate research-based inclusive pedagogy into the design and implementation of their chemical engineering education efforts.
October 25, 2021

Promoting engagement in active-learning classroom design

While the interior design of classroom spaces has evolved to support active learning methods, few studies have isolated environment changes from curriculum changes to understand the impact of space on behavior (Brooks, Walker, & Baepler, 2014). Adapting an observation instrument from the Brooks (2012) study, “Space and Consequences”, this research extends previous work in a unique circumstance that allowed the observation of a course which alternated class meetings between two differently designed spaces. We gathered perspectives from 296 students and 9 instructors along with classroom observations which highlighted eye contact as important to both instructors and students in promoting engagement.
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