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Beyond Anecdotes: How To Assess What Goes On In Your Classes

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Getting Started: Objectives, Rubrics, Evaluations, and Assessment

Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.276.1 - 14.276.10

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Paper Authors


Kathy Schmidt University of Texas, Austin

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KATHY J. SCHMIDT is the Director of the Faculty Innovation Center for the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. The FIC’s mission is to provide faculty with effective instructional tools and strategies. In this position, she promotes the School's commitment to finding ways to enrich teaching and learning. She works in all aspects of education including design and development, faculty training, learner support, and evaluation.

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Mia Markey University of Texas, Austin

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MIA K. MARKEY is an Associate Professor in The University of Texas Department of Biomedical Engineering. The mission of her Biomedical Informatics Lab is to design cost-effective, computer-based decision aids. The BMIL develops decision support systems for clinical decision making and scientific discovery using artificial intelligence and signal processing technologies. The BMIL's research portfolio also includes projects in biometrics. Dr. Markey’s primary interests in improving engineering education are the identification of effective strategies for coordinating instructional technologies to reinforce learning and the recruitment and retention of a diverse student body.

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Wonsoon Park University of Texas, Austin

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WONSOON PARK is a doctoral student in the College of Education at the University of Texas at Austin.

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

Beyond Anecdotes: How to Assess What Goes on in Your Classes

Abstract New professors have many demands on their schedules and they often don’t think about documenting and studying classroom practice. Doing so offers them insights and evidence as to what works in teaching. In order to be able to undertake evidence-based research of their teaching they need some practical advice on how to effectively and efficiently conduct such endeavors. While historically social science research has been hindered by skepticism of its validity and rigor, in truth educational research is not without protocols and standards. However, most beginning engineering faculty (and for that matter, seasoned engineering faculty) are not schooled in educational research and so the prospective of empirically studying what goes on in their classroom can be daunting. In this paper, we will share practical tips and suggestions on how to collect and analyze instructional data. Given the breadth of responsibilities that new faculty must take on, new professors need practical guidance on how they can contribute to engineering educational research. In this paper we share our hard-learned lessons on research approaches, data gathering, and analysis. We offer ideas that will help new professors streamline the process and approach these processes in an efficient and effective manner.

I. Introduction

New professors face many expectations including the ability to be an effective teacher. Accordingly, “university faculty have important responsibilities both for transmitting existing knowledge and for creating new knowledge: for teaching and learning.” 1 Generally there is a plethora of resources on how to teach, but guidance for creating new knowledge on teaching and learning through educational research approaches are not as readily apparent for beginning engineering faculty. The American Society of Engineering Educator’s division, Educational Research and Methods, addresses various aspects of the learning process including, research on learning, research on methods of instruction, dissemination of knowledge on teaching and learning, and development of procedures and materials for instruction2, but many new professors often need specific guidance as they begin the process of empirically studying their instructional strategies and outcomes.

The need for “evidence based” practice in engineering education stems from various factors including, for example, a better understanding of how people learn, a new generation of “digital native” learners, and calls for educational reform particularly in the areas of science, mathematics, and engineering. New engineering educators are expected to, at the very least, to be versed in current pedagogy and have a working knowledge of relevant instructional issues. Given that engineers are theory-based thinkers, many want to know the “whys” behind instructional approaches and to hear about the supporting empirical findings. Taking only value judgments or trusting in approaches without any scientific basis goes against an engineer’s core thinking. Yet a

Proceedings of the 2009 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2009 American Society for Engineering Education

Schmidt, K., & Markey, M., & Park, W. (2009, June), Beyond Anecdotes: How To Assess What Goes On In Your Classes Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2009 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015