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Beyond Making: Application of Constructionist Learning Principles in Engineering Prototyping Centers

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Making in Design Education

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count

22

DOI

10.18260/1-2--36746

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/36746

Download Count

57

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Paper Authors

biography

Kate Youmans Colorado School of Mines

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Dr. Youmans will join the Engineering, Design ,and Society Divisoin at Colorado School of Mines in Fall 2021. She completed her Ph.D. in Engineering Education at Utah State University with a focus on the use of empathic concern as a teaching practice to support student success in engineering. Dr. Youmans holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and an M.Ed. in Science Education from Boston University. As an engineering educator and researcher she is passionate about breaking down barriers and transforming engineering into a more inclusive field. She brings a broad perspective to her work, drawing from her experience in the medical device industry and leading diversity and outreach initiatives for MIT’s Office of Engineering Outreach. Using these experiences, Mrs. Youmans developed innovative STEM programs in Design Thinking, Computer Science and Robotics at a K-12 charter school. She is interested in understanding the use of Makerspaces to support active and student-centered learning within engineering education. In addition, her teaching focuses on the implementation of authentic project-based learning to develop students’ 21st century skills such as collaboration and problem solving.

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Idalis Villanueva University of Florida Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-8767-2576

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Dr. Villanueva is an Associate Professor in the Engineering Education Department at the University of Florida. Her multiple roles as an engineer, engineering educator, engineering educational researcher, and professional development mentor for underrepresented populations has aided her in the design and integration of educational and physiological technologies to research 'best practices' for student professional development and training. In addition, she is developing methodologies around hidden curriculum, academic emotions and physiology, and engineering makerspaces.

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Jana Bouwma-Gearhart Oregon State University

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Jana L. Bouwma-Gearhart is an associate professor of STEM education at Oregon State University. Her research widely concerns improving education at research universities. Her earlier research explored enhancements to faculty motivation to improve undergraduate education. Her more recent research concerns organizational change towards postsecondary STEM education improvement at research universities, including the interactions of levers (people, organizations, policy, initiatives) of change and documenting the good, hard work required across disciplinary boundaries to achieve meaningful change in STEM education.

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Louis Nadelson University of Central Arkansas

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Louis S. Nadelson has a BS from Colorado State University, a BA from the Evergreen State College, a MEd from Western Washington University, and a PhD in educational psychology from UNLV. His scholarly interests include all areas of STEM teaching and learning, inservice and preservice teacher professional development, program evaluation, multidisciplinary research, and conceptual change. Nadelson uses his over 20 years of high school and college math, science, computer science, and engineering teaching to frame his research on STEM teaching and learning. Nadelson brings a unique perspective of research, bridging experience with practice and theory to explore a range of interests in STEM teaching and learning.

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Abstract

Recent shifts in engineering education have called for a greater focus on the development of design skills and opportunities for students to apply technical and professional skills to authentic problems [1,2]. The creation of student-centered spaces for making and prototyping has supported this trend by providing engineering students with the opportunity to engage in authentic and collaborative problem-solving activities that can develop students’ 21st century skills [3–5]. Principles of constructionist learning theory, which promote the construction of knowledge through the development of and interaction with a physical product [6,7], can be applied to support learning within these spaces. In addition to construction of physical objects, this learning theory emphasizes a learning culture that is collaborative and student-centered [8].

This exploratory research seeks to understand how the principles of constructionism support learning in an engineering prototyping center (EPC) at a large western university. As part of a multi-year and multi-site study on the role of makerspaces in engineering education, semi-structured interviews with faculty, students and staff involved with an EPC at a western university were conducted. Thematic analysis of 15 interviews suggests that construction of physical prototypes within this space allows for the translation of abstract concepts to concrete experiences and the development of iterative design skills, which are critical skills in the engineering profession. Additionally, the data suggests that staff play an important role in guiding student learning, creating a collaborative culture, which promotes a growth mindset and life-long learning skills. Results of this study suggest that the integration of elements of constructionist learning principles can play a central role in supporting the development of engineering students in the EPC.

1. Froyd, J. E.; Wankat, P. C.; Smith, K. A. Five major shifts in 100 years of engineering education. Proc. IEEE 2012, 100, 1344–1360, doi:10.1109/JPROC.2012.2190167. 2. Wilczynski, V. Academic Makerspaces and Engineering Design. 2015. 3. Mills, J. E.; Treagust, D. F. Engineering Education - is Problem-Based or Project Based Learning the Answer? Australas. J. Eng. Educ. 2003. 4. Wigner, A.; Lande, M.; Jordan, S. S. How Can Maker Skills Fit in with Accreditation Demands for Undergraduate Engineering Programs? Am. Soc. Eng. Educ. 2016, doi:10.18260/p.25468. 5. Longo, A.; Yoder, B.; Guerra, R. C. C.; Tsanov, R. University Makerspaces: Characteristics and Impact on Student Success in Engineering and Engineering Technology Education. ASEE Annu. Conf. Expo. 2017, 1–19. 6. Martinez, S. L.; Stager, G. Invent to learn : making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom; Torrance: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press, 2013; ISBN 9780997554328. 7. Halverson, E. R.; Sheridan, K. The Maker Movement in Education. Harv. Educ. Rev. 2014, 84, 495–504, doi:10.17763/haer.84.4.34j1g68140382063. 8. Kafai, Y. B. Constructionism. In The Cambridge Handbook Of Learning Sciences; 2005; pp. 35–45.

Youmans, K., & Villanueva, I., & Bouwma-Gearhart, J., & Nadelson, L. (2021, July), Beyond Making: Application of Constructionist Learning Principles in Engineering Prototyping Centers Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36746

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