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Board 178: Teacher Perspectives of Outcomes and Challenges Resulting from Students' Interactions with MATLAB in e4usa (Fundamental)

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2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Baltimore , Maryland

Publication Date

June 25, 2023

Start Date

June 25, 2023

End Date

June 28, 2023

Conference Session

Pre-College Engineering Education Division (PCEE) Poster Session

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education Division (PCEE)

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Paper Authors


Nicolas Léger Florida International University

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Nicolas Léger is currently an engineering and computing education Ph.D. student in the School of Universal Computing, Construction, and Engineering Education (SUCCEED) at Florida International University. He earned a B.S. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from the University of Maryland at College Park in May 2021 and began his Ph.D. studies the following fall semester. His research interests center on numerical and computational methods in STEM education and in Engineering Entrepreneurship.

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Stacy S Klein-Gardner Vanderbilt University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Stacy Klein-Gardner serves as an Adjunct Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Vanderbilt University. She is the co-PI and co-Director of the NSF-funded Engineering For Us All (e4usa) project. She is also the co-PI and co-Director of the Youth Engineering Solutions (YES) Middle School project focusing on engineering and computational thinking. Dr. Klein-Gardner is a Fellow of ASEE.

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Bruk T Berhane Florida International University

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Dr. Bruk T. Berhane received his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Maryland in 2003. He holds an M.S. in engineering management from the George Washington University and a Ph.D. in minority and urban education from the University of Maryland. In 2003, Bruk was hired by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHUAPL), where he worked on nanotechnology and microsystems. In 2005 he left JHUAPL for a fellowship with the National Academies and researched methods of increasing the number of women in engineering. Later that year, he briefly served as a mathematics instructor in Baltimore City High Schools.

From 2005 through 2018, Dr. Berhane directed engineering recruitment and scholarship programs for the University of Maryland. He oversaw an increase in the admission of students of color and women during his tenure and supported initiatives that reduce the time to degree for transfers from Maryland community colleges. The broader implications of his research are informed by his comprehensive experiences as a college administrator. His areas of scholarly interest include: 1) Broadening participation in engineering through community college pathways and 2) Experiences of first and second-generation African diasporic Americans in engineering undergraduate programs.

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As part of the e4usa curriculum, a MATLAB model has been developed and implemented in order to cultivate engineering and computational thinking skills in high school students. The MATLAB model uses a live script that allows students to interact with sliders and dropdown menus to change parameters on a water filtration model. With computational skills increasingly in demand, the literature suggests that adding computational thinking and coding skills as a new form of literacy is crucial for preparing future engineering professionals. Additionally, to ensure that students are better prepared by the time they reach their post-secondary studies, early exposure to computational thinking skills has valuable implications. In this fundamental paper, we describe outcomes resulting from students' interactions with MATLAB in e4usa. The mathematical model allows the students to analyze the effects of different filtration materials, impurities to be removed, length of the water filter, and the space between particles in their filtration material. Using at first a mathematical model rather than testing physical materials will allow them to learn more about their potential filtration materials so that they may make more informed decisions about which filtration materials they want to select for their design and use in the prototype that they build and test. With that said, we focus on student outcomes in this design activity. We hypothesize that this modeling activity prior to design may reduce the time spent in physical testing as well as the volume of materials consumed. Additionally, we are inquisitive about the impact that it has on the subsequent design activities compared to previous semesters where this lesson was taught, where it was observed that students spend a considerable amount of time trying out different materials. As part of our data, we have collected teacher data from surveys, pre and post-responses about their expectations, attitudes, and perceived value of implementing the MATLAB model in their classrooms, class observation data from at least two schools where we noted the interactions between the teachers and students, and teacher and student focus groups at the end of the semester where we expect to collect richer data from these two groups that will allow us to triangulate data collected from surveys and classroom observations.

Léger, N., & Klein-Gardner, S. S., & Berhane, B. T. (2023, June), Board 178: Teacher Perspectives of Outcomes and Challenges Resulting from Students' Interactions with MATLAB in e4usa (Fundamental) Paper presented at 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Baltimore , Maryland. 10.18260/1-2--42547

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