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A Qualitative Examination of Learners’ Experiences in Experiential BME-In-Practice Modules

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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

Biomedical Engineering Division: Supporting and Evaluating Student Learning in BioE/BME Courses

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Paper Authors


Vibhavari Vempala University of Michigan

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Vibhavari (Vibha) Vempala is a PhD student in Engineering Education Research at the University of Michigan. Her research interests include access to opportunities, social networks, career development, and career decision-making of engineering students. Vibha received her B.S. in Engineering from the joint department of Biomedical Engineering at The North Carolina State University and The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a M.S. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Michigan.

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Aileen Huang-Saad Northeastern University

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Dr. Huang-Saad is an Associate Professor of Bioengineering at Northeastern University and the Director of Life Sciences and Engineering Programs at Northeastern's Roux Institute in Portland, Maine. Dr. Huang-Saad is Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Springer’s Biomedical Engineering Education and Division Chair for the American Society of Engineering Education’s Biomedical Engineering Division. Dr. Huang-Saad’s current research areas are entrepreneurship, innovation, and transforming higher education. She is funded by the NSF to explore the influence of the microenvironment of entrepreneurship education on minoritized populations, entrepreneurial ecosystems, and fostering graduate student professional development.

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Learners of Biomedical Engineering (BME) programs report difficulties finding relevant jobs post-graduation and also express a disconnect between their training and future professional roles. In addition, because of the interdisciplinary nature of BME, there is a lack of shared understanding of the field between learners, departments, and employers. This lack of understanding further contributes to the disconnect between instruction and practice. To bridge the gap between curricular experiences and learners' understanding of career opportunities in BME, we developed a series of 1-credit (4-week) BME-In-Practice Modules that exposed biomedical learners to biomedical engineering practice. Each 1-credit module in the series was designed to run for four weeks and focused on different areas in BME such as Tissue engineering, Computational Modeling, Medical Device Development, Drug Development, Regulations, and Neural Engineering. Learners' enrolled in one or multiple modules and engaged in experiential learning for 4-weeks to gain knowledge and skills relevant to the BME area of focus in the module(s). Following the conclusion of the BME-In-Practice series, we collected survey data from learners who participated in the modules to address the following research questions: 1) What are learners' goals and motivations for enrolling in the BME-In-Practice Module(s)? and 2) How did learners' experiences with the module(s) align with their goals and influence their graduation plans? The survey was administered using Qualtrics and consisted of multiple open-ended questions examining learners' goals and motivations for participating in the BME-in-Practice Module(s) and questions assessing their experiences with the series. Responses to the open-ended survey questions were analyzed using a qualitative interpretive approach. Our results identify different goals related to learners' professional interests and competencies when enrolling in the module. Learners' reported gaining practical experiences as well as clarity and direction about their professional futures. We also discuss the graduation plans and outcomes reported by the learners' who participated in the modules, followed by implications for practice and future research.

Vempala, V., & Huang-Saad, A. (2022, August), A Qualitative Examination of Learners’ Experiences in Experiential BME-In-Practice Modules Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN. 10.18260/1-2--41664

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