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Board 149: Examining Interventions to Increase Classroom Community and Relevancy in an Early Career Engineering Course

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Conference

2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count

13

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/29950

Download Count

39

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Paper Authors

biography

Robin Tuchscherer P.E. Northern Arizona University

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Dr. Tuchscherer currently serves as an Associate Professor at Northern Arizona University where he has taught since 2011. Prior to academia, he accumulated eight years of professional experience as a practicing structural engineer and brings a practitioner's perspective to the academic and research setting. He teaches core undergraduate engineering courses, structural analysis, and reinforced concrete design. His area of expertise is the analysis, behavior, and design of concrete structures.

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Christine Allison Gray Northern Arizona University

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Christine Allison Gray is a doctoral student in the College of Education at Northern Arizona University. She also serves as a graduate assistant on the Reshaping Norms project in the College of Engineering, Forestry and Natural Sciences.

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John Tingerthal P.E. Northern Arizona University

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John Tingerthal joined the Construction Management faculty at Northern Arizona University in 2007 and was appointed as a Distinguished Teaching Fellow. His engineering career spans a variety of design and forensic engineering experiences. He spent the first eight years of his career performing structural consulting engineering in Chicago. He earned his Doctorate in Education and is currently the Associate Chair of the Civil Engineering, Construction Management and Environmental Engineering Department. His academic interests lie in the field of discipline-based education. John is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC), and the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE).

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Ron Gray Northern Arizona University

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Ron Gray, Ph.D. is an associate professor of science education in the Center for Science Teaching and Learning at Northern Arizona University. He graduated from Oregon State University with a doctorate in science education. His work largely focuses on providing secondary science teachers the tools to design and implement learning experiences for their students that are effective and authentic to the discipline. Much of this work has been centered on model-based inquiry and the integration of scientific practices in a supportive and structured way. He has been funded by NSF and other agencies to conduct research on preservice teacher education, undergraduate engineering education, and community partnerships in secondary education.

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Abstract

The current NSF-funded project was designed to positively impact the retention of engineering majors in early career engineering courses. We build on prior work in this area through our focus on two important aspects of classroom instruction: classroom community and relevancy. In this two-year project, faculty from engineering and science education have teamed together to design, implement, and study a number of interventions related to classroom community and relevancy. As proxies for retention, we used three measures to examine specific constructs: engineering identity, engineering self-efficacy, and sense of community. In addition, we used the COPUS observational protocol to examine instructional differences between treatment and control courses. In the first two iterations of the project, we examined the impact of micro-interventions aimed solely at increasing the students’ sense of community in the early career course. These included, for example, a focus on classroom norms, strategies to increase peer-to-peer interactions, and peer testimonials to enable discussions of the challenges faced by first-year engineering students, among others. For the third and final iteration of the project, we examined the impact of interventions aimed at both classroom community and relevancy. Based on the findings of this study and considering the context of the research plan, we have the following concluding observations. There were important instructional differences seen between the two courses as shown by the COPUS observational data. However, the effect of these differences on the three measured constructs was inconsistent. We measured a statistically significant difference in students’ sense of community and engineering self-efficacy for the treatment section during the alpha iteration, but not during the subsequent beta or gamma iterations. Similarly, we found no significant difference in students’ change in engineering identity between the treatment and control sections, for all iterations. It is likely the instrument used to measure identity was insufficient to measure changes over the time scale of one semester. With that said, although tenuous, our findings provide evidence that an increase in classroom climate can effect students’ engineering self-efficacy. It may be the “micro” nature of our interventions was not effective towards producing significant changes to students’ sense of community, engineering self-efficacy, or engineering identity – in a large lecture-format introductory engineering course. Or, it may be the instruments employed were not sensitive to measuring the change. Nonetheless, while inconclusive, the findings of this study are provided for practitioners who may be interested in incorporating similar pedagogies into their classroom. In addition, the findings grow the knowledge-base and are available to researchers interested in extending the results into future studies.

Tuchscherer, R., & Gray, C. A., & Tingerthal, J., & Gray, R. (2018, June), Board 149: Examining Interventions to Increase Classroom Community and Relevancy in an Early Career Engineering Course Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/29950

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