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Board # 156 : Experiences of Pre-College Teachers Working with Undergraduate Engineering Students with ADHD in Research Laboratories

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Conference

2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count

15

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/27786

Download Count

54

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Paper Authors

biography

Catherine Clark Hain Mansfield Public Schools

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Catherine Hain is a fourth-grade teacher at Anne E. Vinton Elementary School in Mansfield, Connecticut.  She received her Bachelor of Arts in French, summa cum laude, from the University of Connecticut in 1993.  She earned her teaching certificate from Eastern Connecticut State University.  Ms. Hain worked for eight years at Natchaug Elementary School where she taught Kindergarten and Enrichment until taking a position in Mansfield in 2006. 

She spent the 2012-2013 school year teaching at Marymount International School in Rome, Italy. Based on reviews of research conducted as a NSF Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) Fellow at the University of Connecticut, she has redesigned her classroom environment to meet the needs of a variety of learners and learning styles.

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Wendy Christine Turek

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Wendy Turek is a High School teacher at Global Communications Academy in Hartford, Connecticut. She previously taught for four years at Bulkeley High School in Hartford. She graduated with a degree in Biology from the University of Connecticut, and is currently working on her Master’s Degree in Special Education at Quinnipiac University. She spent the summer of 2016 as a National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) Fellow at the University of Connecticut. The focus of this project was the creative potential of students with ADHD, and supporting neurodiversity in the classroom.

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Arash Esmaili Zaghi P.E. University of Connecticut

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Arash E. Zaghi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Connecticut. He received his PhD in 2009 from the University of Nevada, Reno, and continued there as a Research Scientist. His latest research endeavor is on creativity and engineering education, with a focus on the unique potential of students with ADHD. Supported by multiple grants from the National Science Foundation, his research was highlighted the American Society of Engineering Education's Prism Magazine. He received a CAREER Award in 2016 to study the significance of neurodiversity in developing a creative engineering workforce.

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Alexandra Hain University of Connecticut

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Alexandra Hain is a PhD student at the University of Connecticut studying structural engineering. She received her Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering in 2015 from the University of Connecticut. She has an interest in engineering education and served as the program manager for the REU Site: Research Experience in Cyber and Civil Infrastructure Security for Students with ADHD: Fostering Innovation during summer 2016.

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Abstract

Students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are significantly underrepresented in engineering programs despite their high potential to impact the field through their strong divergent thinking and unparalleled risk-taking abilities. The current engineering education system has yet to realize the unique potential of these students and largely fails to attract and retain them due to the overemphasis on lecture-based learning and its discouraging evaluation methods. The abilities of these students are often overlooked in pre-college environments as well, where educators typically approach ADHD from a deficit perspective, which has detrimental impacts on the student’s confidence and self-image. To recognize the unique intellectual strengths of engineering students with ADHD and encourage them to continue in engineering careers, a specialized Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Site titled “REU Site: Research Experience in Cyber and Civil Infrastructure Security for Students with ADHD: Fostering Innovation” has been funded by the NSF Division of Engineering Education and Centers. To extend the impact and findings of the REU program to pre-college students, two teachers, one fourth and one ninth grade, joined engineering research labs at the University of Connecticut as NSF Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) Fellows, and spent six weeks working with undergraduate student researchers with ADHD. In addition to taking part in the research activities, the teachers attended multiple roundtable discussions where the REU students shared their experiences in both their personal lives and their engineering programs. This provided a unique opportunity for the teachers to observe firsthand the performance of students with ADHD outside of a traditional classroom setting. A research experience gives the students interest-provoking task that actively demand creating thinking.

This paper presents the major observations and experiences of the teachers, principal investigator, and program manager after completion of the program. The program significantly improved the teachers’ perceptions of students with ADHD and the shortcomings of the current education system that puts this population of students with significant potential for innovation at high risk of academic failure and disinterest in pursuing higher education. Overall, the major observations from this REU were that: given the right environment, i.e. niche, students with ADHD can thrive; engineering research can be a stimulating and ideal environment for students with ADHD; and the opportunity to learn and interact with peers with ADHD can provide a rich and meaningful experience and help their confidence and ability as learners. It was noted that the education system needs to move from the idea of ‘accommodating’ for some, to differentiating for all. Employing a different approach to planning meaningful lessons and activities that support all learners’ contributions, necessarily implies utilization of more diverse evaluation methods, as well as teaching strategies. The uniquely attractive components of engineering, i.e., real world applications, the design process, and creative problem-solving, can capture the curiosity and imagination of these students who can solve the most complex and challenging problems facing our nation.

Hain, C. C., & Turek, W. C., & Esmaili Zaghi, A., & Hain, A. (2017, June), Board # 156 : Experiences of Pre-College Teachers Working with Undergraduate Engineering Students with ADHD in Research Laboratories Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/27786

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