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A Walk On The Moon: A Course To Attract Women And Minorities To Engineering

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Women in Engineering: New Research

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.140.1 - 8.140.9



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Paper Authors

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Yell Inverso

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Rachelle Heller

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Dave Snyder

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Charlene Sorenson

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Catherine Mavriplis

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract


A WALK ON THE MOON: Interdisciplinary, Inquiry-Based Learning Theory into Practice

Catherine Mavriplis and Rachelle S. Heller The George Washington University, Washington, DC

Charlene C. Sorensen and H. David Snyder Gallaudet University, Washington, DC


Academic disciplines and corporations whose basis lies in science and engineering are calling for diversity in the student body and work force, including women and other under-represented groups (Ramsey et al, 1997), one that is comfortable working in teams (Frost, 1998) and willing to engage in collaborative problem solving directed at complex or wicked problems (Turner, 2002). Turner says: “This rethinking involves the nature of the science that we do (more integrated), the way that problems are defined (collaboratively), the role of the scientists in the process (more engaged), and the tools for delivery (more user friendly)”. These economic and social pressures require that educators rethink or redesign how material is presented to students. One approach to implementing these changes is to modify the traditional, lecture-based science and engineering education technique to include one of guided inquiry and multi- or inter- disciplinary project performance. We have designed an interdisciplinary science and engineering seminar course to investigate this new approach. Our expectation is that in offering an alternative learning environment, we might reach more women (Hunsaker, 1996, Shirley, 1999, Huang et. al., 2000), under-represented minorities1 and traditional students, encourage them to persevere in their fields and offer them some useful tools for their career development.

The course was developed as part of a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant for the advancement of women and under-represented groups in science and engineering. The NSF-funded project is entitled FORWARD in SEM ( This project aims to increase the numbers of women and individuals from underrepresented groups in advanced science, engineering and mathematics (SEM) studies and careers. Our particular focus is on the bridge between undergraduate and graduate studies in SEM fields. We have developed activities designed to encourage women and students of other underrepresented groups to consider graduate studies, apply to graduate school and, once in, stay in and complete advanced degrees. The project has five activities: a workshop for sophomores and juniors considering graduate school, the interdisciplinary seminar course described here (A Walk on the Moon), a summer research competition for first year 1 Under-represented minorities include ethnic minorities and students with disabilities.

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ? 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Inverso, Y., & Heller, R., & Snyder, D., & Sorenson, C., & Mavriplis, C. (2003, June), A Walk On The Moon: A Course To Attract Women And Minorities To Engineering Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12498

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