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Board 140: FOUNDATIONS – Integrating Evidence-based Teaching and Learning Practices into the Core Engineering Curriculum

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Conference

2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count

11

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/32255

Download Count

6

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Paper Authors

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Gail P. Baxter Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education

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Gail P. Baxter is the Co-Director, Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education (CIESE) at Stevens Institute of Technology. Baxter leads CIESE research and evaluation efforts on several national and statewide K-12 STEM curriculum development and teacher professional development programs and she manages a program to support faculty adoption of evidence-based teaching practices in the core courses in the School of Engineering at Stevens. Before joining CIESE, Baxter was a Senior Survey Researcher at Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., Senior Research Scientist at Educational Testing Service, and an Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Michigan. In addition, she served on National Academy of Sciences Committees on Foundations of Educational and Psychological Assessment and Evaluation of National and State Assessments of Educational Progress. She earned a PhD in Educational Psychology from UC Santa Barbara.

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Frank T. Fisher Stevens Institute of Technology (School of Engineering and Science)

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Frank T. Fisher is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and co-Director of the Nanotechnology Graduate Program (www.stevens.edu/nano) at Stevens. He has been awarded the NSF CAREER award, the ASEE Mechanics Division Ferdinand P. Beer and E. Russell Johnson Jr. Outstanding New Educator Award, and the 2009 Outstanding Teacher Award from the Stevens Alumni Association.

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Patricia J. Holahan Stevens Institute of Technology (School of Engineering and Science)

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Patricia J. Holahan is an Associate Professor of Management in the School of Business, Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, NJ, USA. She has served as PI/PD on several NSF funded projects that target large-scale institutional change and transformation where she oversaw the organizational research related to modelling organizational change and transformation processes. Dr. Holahan holds a PhD in organizational behavior and theory from Purdue University’s Krannert Graduate School of Management. She teaches courses on organizational behavior and design and organizational change. Her work has been work published in several leading academic journals including, Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Management, Journal of Management Studies, and Journal of Product Innovation Management.

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Keith G. Sheppard Stevens Institute of Technology (School of Engineering and Science)

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Dr. Keith G. Sheppard is
Senior Adviser to the Dean in the Charles V. Schaefer, Jr. School of Engineering and Science and a professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science. His research interests have included electrochemical aspects of materials synthesis and environmental degradation of materials. His education in the U.K. included B.Sc. (University of Leeds) and Ph.D. (University of Birmingham) degrees in Metallurgy and a diploma in Industrial Administration (Aston University). He was the recipient of the Henry Morton Distinguished Teaching Professor Award in 2009. As Associate Dean, Prof. Sheppard had a leading role in the development of the undergraduate engineering curriculum at Stevens, including innovations in design education and initiatives to include entrepreneurship, sustainability, and global competency for undergraduate students.

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Susan Lowes Teachers College, Columbia University

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Dr. Susan Lowes is Director of Research and Evaluation at the Institute for Learning Technologies at Teachers College, Columbia University. She has conducted research at both university and K-12 levels, with a focus on STEM learning and on the impact of different technologies on teaching and learning. She has directed evaluations of multi-year projects funded by the U.S. Dept. of Education and the National Science Foundation, and served on Dept. of Education and NSF Advisory and Review panels. Dr. Lowes has worked extensively with Columbia University’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Stevens Institute of Technology’s School of Engineering and Science. She has co-authored papers and presentations on STEM learning in the sciences, engineering, and mathematics. Dr. Lowes is also Adjunct Professor in the Program in Computers, Communication, Technology, and Education at Teachers College, teaching courses on methodologies for researching technology in education and on online schools and schooling.

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Susan Staffin Metz Stevens Institute of Technology, President's Office

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Susan Metz is Executive Director of Diversity and Inclusion and Senior Research Associate at Stevens Institute of Technology. Metz is a founder of WEPAN, Women in Engineering ProActive Network. She is a recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring, the Maria Mitchell Women in Science Award and a Fellow of the Association for Women in Science.

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Abstract

The project seeks to transform teaching and learning by simultaneously effecting change at the individual faculty level and at the organizational level. Key here is the adoption of evidence-based teaching & learning practices derived from research on cognition and how people learn. To maximize project impact, we focus on the core engineering curriculum and the introductory mathematics, science, and engineering science courses taken by students in their first two years, with approximately 600 students entering engineering each year. Strategies to support faculty change include ongoing discussions of the principles of teaching and learning; engagement in discipline-based education research; provision of trained peer assistants to facilitate active-learning pedagogies in lectures and recitations; use of midterm course evaluations as formative feedback; and advocacy with colleagues to catalyze diffusion beyond these early courses. At the organizational level, the goal is to create a climate where effective teaching is expected, supported and rewarded. A campus-wide baseline survey administered at the start of the project highlighted the institutional climate factors that are likely to support/hinder the transformation to evidence-based teaching. In short, evidence-based practices were generally perceived as not supported or rewarded, not easy to implement, and require development of new skills. The cultural supports for change have been addressed with the Faculty Senate and senior academic administrators. Consequently, in 2017 an explicit goal to implement evidence-based teaching practices was incorporated into the University’s most recent revision of its strategic plan. The project has engaged three cohorts of faculty, with each cohort receiving summer support for three years beginning summer 2016 (N=9), 2017 (N=5), and 2018 (N=5). These are faculty members who teach the core Calculus, Chemistry, Physics and Biology courses, together with the foundational computer programming, and engineering science courses in Engineering Thermodynamics, Engineering Mechanics, and Electrical Circuits. All thirteen of the core courses have so far been impacted to some degree. The faculty engaged to date are heavily weighted towards teaching stream, but our theory of action anticipates these being the champions to effect diffusion through sharing their experiences and successes with the tenure-stream faculty who tend to teach upper-level courses. The extent of participating faculty and organizational transformation is being examined through the lens of limiting-factor analysis (LFA), which identifies and addresses those factors that need to be in place if the project is to be sustainable. To this end, each cohort of participating faculty are interviewed before and after implementing changes. Leadership at all levels of administration (Provost, Dean, Department Chair) are interviewed to ascertain their perceptions of, and support for, transformational change. In addition to LFA, measures of the nature and extent of faculty changes are captured in two ways. First, a yearly teaching practices survey is administered to all faculty teaching a core course. Questions focus on use of active-learning strategies, instructional supports (e.g., TAs, graders, peer leaders), and strategies for monitoring student understanding throughout the course. Second, participating faculty are expected to make changes to their instructional practices, document their rationale for change (e.g., deep learning), nature of that change (e.g., increased emphasis on cross course connections), and evidence that the change was effective (e.g., concept map). Midterm and end-of-course evaluations provide student input on their perceptions of the teaching and learning environment experienced in the core courses taught by both Foundations and non-Foundations faculty. A significant recent outcome was an agreement to coordinate and strengthen TA, tutor, and peer leader training so all can support a student-centered active learning approach to teaching and learning at the college level. Historically, these efforts were handled by different centers on campus with differing levels of faculty and/or department input. Factors limiting the spread of evidence-based teaching practices have been found to include difficulty in making changes to one section of a multi-section course, lack of alignment between teaching for understanding and exams designed for quick grading, student resistance to a conceptual approach, course enrollments that make active learning more difficult, and heavy reliance on student evaluation for assessing faculty. Faculty and student surveys have highlighted differences in what faculty say they are doing and students perceptions of how helpful various strategies were to their learning. The faculty participating in the project have increased their efforts to help students connect concepts across courses through projects or specific problems that require the application of concepts learned in one course (e.g., calculus) to problem solving in a subsequent course (e.g., thermodynamics).

This project is supported by the National Science Foundation EHR/DUE IUSE: EHR Program

Baxter, G. P., & Fisher, F. T., & Holahan, P. J., & Sheppard, K. G., & Lowes, S., & Metz, S. S. (2019, June), Board 140: FOUNDATIONS – Integrating Evidence-based Teaching and Learning Practices into the Core Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. https://peer.asee.org/32255

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