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A Tool for Informing Community-Engaged Projects

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Community-Engaged Engineering Education Challenges and Opportunities in Light of COVID-19 Paper Presentations 2

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Liberal Education/Engineering & Society, Community Engagement Division, and Equity, Culture & Social Justice in Education

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Camille Velarde University of New Mexico


Vanessa Svihla University of New Mexico Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Vanessa Svihla is a learning scientist and associate professor at the University of New Mexico in the Organization, Information and Learning Sciences program and in the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department. She served as Co-PI on an NSF RET Grant and a USDA NIFA grant, and is currently co-PI on three NSF-funded projects in engineering and computer science education, including a Revolutionizing Engineering Departments project. She was selected as a National Academy of Education / Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow and a 2018 NSF CAREER awardee in engineering education research. Dr. Svihla studies learning in authentic, real world conditions, specifically on design learning, in which she studies engineers designing devices, scientists designing investigations, teachers designing learning experiences and students designing to learn.

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Estike Kokovay Gutierrez

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Background and motivation. While research suggests that community engaged projects can be particularly effective, such work is notoriously time consuming and not scalable. The learning curve for an organization seeking to start such work is steep. Additionally, it is important to evaluate to what extent work typified as community engaged work actually creates a participatory space of community- centered perspectives regarding roles, interests, worldviews, actions and outcomes. Project design and execution. To this end, we developed a formative assessment tool utilizing Chandanabhumma et. al.’s (2020) evaluation of community voice within 253 unique community based participatory research projects as a foundation. This tool, created in partnership between a university and outreach group affiliated with the Air Force, allows organizations to evaluate existing projects and explore ways to develop on a path towards true community-engagement. The outreach group in this case undertakes significant STEM education within New Mexico, but in the past, a majority of the work has been done “for” or “to” communities, rather than “with” communities. The paper details the development and initial use of the tool. Lessons learned. The tool helped the organizations recognize where they could incorporate community voice within the planning of their projects as well as evaluate the level of community voice present in various aspects of past projects. By using the tool, several members made aspects of their work more explicit. Specifically, members shared ways they sought ideas, feedback, and insight from teachers, and how this informed their ongoing work. Conclusions and next steps. While the initial use of the tool revealed some uncertainty about community engagement, it opened space to value and expand existing practices aligned to community engagement. Ongoing use of the tool, paired with leadership support, is driving the organization to change how they view community roles.

Velarde, C., & Svihla, V., & Gutierrez , E. K. (2021, July), A Tool for Informing Community-Engaged Projects Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36625

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