Salt Lake City, Utah
June 23, 2018
June 23, 2018
July 27, 2018
Liberal Education/Engineering & Society
Active learning remains at the forefront of new engineering pedagogies. This exciting approach uses hands-on and collaborative learning activities to give students real-world technical and nontechnical experiences. Many universities across the country have implemented active learning classes because there is ample evidence that they stimulate long-term material retention, critical thinking and communication skills [1,2,3]. However, these positive attributes mask a hidden problem. Past research has shown that active learning environments can cause additional stress on female students, an already marginalized group in STEM fields. Focus groups revealed that women often feel inferior to their male counterparts when working in groups, and that women are often assigned the stereotypically feminine roles of team secretary or report-writer when working on long-term projects [3,4]. These findings are concerning not only for the retention of women in engineering, but also for the success of active learning programs as a whole. The mission of active learning is to prepare students to work with a diverse group of people in a respectful, professional manner. This goal cannot be achieved until women feel respected and comfortable working in team settings.
This paper investigates the causes of doubt for women in active learning settings. The first task in this process is to gather information about student-to-student relationships that develop during group work. Our primary research question is: “How do peer interactions in an active learning environment affect a woman’s confidence as an engineer?” This research will require a mixed- methods approach. Anonymous peer evaluations will be utilized to find discrepancies between peer perceptions of female teammates and female self-perceptions as a teammate. Additionally, co-ed and female-only focus groups will be held to gather qualitative data on what typical female-to-female and male-to-female interactions entail. The goal of this study is to find what painpoints women experience in terms of team dynamics during active learning courses. If these problems are identified, educators can effectively work toward making their classrooms more comfortable for women. In doing so, active learning experiences will become more successful for women and men alike.
 Mehta, S. (1998, June), Cooperative Learning Strategies For Large Classes, Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. https://peer.asee.org/6990
 Koehn, E. (2000, June), Collaborative Learning In Engineering Classrooms Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri. https://peer.asee.org/8209
 Dyrud, M. (1999, June), Getting A Grip On Groups Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina. https://peer.asee.org/7693  Meadows, L. A., & Sekaquaptewa, D. (2013, June), The Influence of Gender Stereotypes on Role Adoption in Student Teams Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. https://peer.asee.org/22602
Keogh, M., & Zarske, M. S., & Tsai, J. Y. (2018, June), Active Learning Group Work: Helpful or Harmful for Women in Engineering? Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/29748
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