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Board # 60: Learning to Make Change by Revolutionizing Departments: Initial Team Experiences

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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 Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count

10

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/27889

Download Count

42

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Paper Authors

biography

Ella Lee Ingram Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Ella L. Ingram is an Associate Professor of Biology and Director of the Center for the Practice and Scholarship of Education at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Her educational research interests include promoting successful change practice of STEM faculty, effective evolution and ecology instruction, and facilitating undergraduate research experiences. Her teaching portfolio includes courses on: nutrition, introductory biology, ecology and environmental studies, evolution, evolutionary medicine, and research practices in science. Ella is the co-coordinator for the project Making Academic Change Happen, an initiative focused on helping faculty and administrators develop the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to become successful and satisfied change agents.

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Elizabeth Litzler University of Washington

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Elizabeth Litzler, Ph.D., is the director of the University of Washington Center for Workforce Development and an affiliate assistant professor of sociology. She directs research and evaluation projects from conceptualization, methodological design, and collection of data and analysis to dissemination of findings. Dr. Litzler is a member of ASEE and a former board member of the Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN). Her research interests include the educational climate for students in science and engineering, and gender and race stratification in education and the workforce.

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Cara Margherio University of Washington

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Cara Margherio is the Senior Research Associate at the UW Center for Evaluation & Research for STEM Equity (CERSE). Cara serves as project manager for program evaluation on several NSF- and NIH-funded projects. Her research interests include community cultural wealth, counterspaces, peer mentoring, and institutional change.

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Julia M. Williams Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Dr. Julia M. Williams is Interim Dean of Cross-Cutting Programs and Emerging Opportunities and Professor of English at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Her research areas include technical communication, assessment, accreditation, and the development of change management strategies for faculty and staff. Her articles have appeared in the Journal of Engineering Education, International Journal of Engineering Education, IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, and Technical Communication Quarterly, among others.

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Abstract

The launch of NSF’s program “Revolutionizing Engineering and Computer Science Departments” (RED) provided an unparalleled opportunity to examine change in action from its inception. This program charges grantees to achieve “significant sustainable changes necessary to overcome longstanding issues in their undergraduate programs and educate inclusive communities of engineering and computer science students prepared to solve 21st-century challenges” with the goal of creating “coherent professional and technical threads... to ensure that students develop deep knowledge in their discipline more effectively and meaningfully” (NSF Solicitation). To date, thirteen teams have commenced their projects, which range in scale and scope from re-visioning curriculum units to coordinated change across aggregated departments to experimental co-curricular opportunities. The faculty teams enacting this change represent intentionally interdisciplinary groups, with disciplinary experts working with social scientists and engineering education researchers. Their work is supported by our project - RED Participatory Action Research - in that we coordinate activities across awardees and also create cross-institution analyses to develop larger lessons to share with the engineering education community. The work described here explores the initial conceptions of team members with respect to readiness to enact change, captured via focus group interviews and informal discussions conducted within six months of their award being granted.

We found that the teams reported significant negotiation at the onset of the project. First, teams reported the need to re-situate their collective understanding of the project itself, including how the project fit into the current vision of the operations of their institution, since almost nine months had passed following final submission. Second, teams negotiated communication strategies and key messaging to outside parties (e.g. the remainder of the department members). The roll-out of large scale projects like the ones funded in this program hinges on an effective communication approach; developing an effective approach required significant discussion among team members. Finally, teams experienced challenges relating to how they implemented their guiding theories of change (inclusion of which was mandated in the proposal process). For each point, we illustrate with narrative taken from team discussions and connect these points to larger issues of faculty development as change agents and team members. Given the repeated calls for increasing the rate and scale of change in engineering education, this paper contributes actionable recommendations for change agents and team coordinators.

Ingram, E. L., & Litzler, E., & Margherio, C., & Williams, J. M. (2017, June), Board # 60: Learning to Make Change by Revolutionizing Departments: Initial Team Experiences Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/27889

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