Asee peer logo

Board 62: Institutional Change Efforts to Improve the Environment for Both Instructors and Students in Foundational Engineering Courses

Download Paper |

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 Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count

7

DOI

10.18260/1-2--32392

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/32392

Download Count

92

Request a correction

Paper Authors

biography

Jacob R. Grohs Virginia Tech

visit author page

Jacob Grohs is an Assistant Professor in Engineering Education at Virginia Tech with Affiliate Faculty status in Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics and the Learning Sciences and Technologies at Virginia Tech. He holds degrees in Engineering Mechanics (BS, MS) and in Educational Psychology (MAEd, PhD).

visit author page

biography

David B. Knight Virginia Tech Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-4576-2490

visit author page

David B. Knight is an Associate Professor and Assistant Department Head of Graduate Programs in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. He is also Director of International Engagement in Engineering Education, directs the Rising Sophomore Abroad Program, and is affiliate faculty with the Higher Education Program. His research tends to be at the macro-scale, focused on a systems-level perspective of how engineering education can become more effective, efficient, and inclusive, tends to be data-driven by leveraging large-scale institutional, state, or national data sets, and considers the intersection between policy and organizational contexts. He has B.S., M.S., and M.U.E.P. degrees from the University of Virginia and a Ph.D. in Higher Education from Pennsylvania State University.

visit author page

biography

Michelle Soledad Virginia Tech, Ateneo de Davao University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-2491-6684

visit author page

Michelle Soledad is the Director for Communications and International Engagement in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. She holds degrees degrees in Electrical Engineering (BS, ME) from the Ateneo de Davao University (ADDU) in Davao City, Philippines, and in Engineering Education (PhD) from Virginia Tech. Her research interests include faculty development and data-informed reflective practice. Michelle's professional experience includes roles in industry and academia, having worked as a software engineer, project lead and manager before becoming Assistant Professor and Department Chair for Electrical Engineering at the Ateneo de Davao University.

visit author page

biography

Homero Murzi Virginia Tech Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-3849-2947

visit author page

Homero Murzi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. He holds degrees in Industrial Engineering (BS, MS), Master of Business Administration (MBA) and in Engineering Education (PhD). Homero has 15 years of international experience working in industry and academia. His research focuses on contemporary and inclusive pedagogical practices, industry-driven competency development in engineering, and understanding the barriers that Latinx and Native Americans have in engineering. Homero has been recognized as a Diggs scholar, a Graduate Academy for Teaching Excellence fellow, a Diversity scholar, a Fulbright scholar and was inducted in the Bouchet Honor Society.

visit author page

biography

Natasha Smith Virginia Tech

visit author page

Natasha is the Director of Enrollment Management for the College of Engineering as the Associate Director of Advising in the Department of Engineering Education, which is home to all General Engineering students. These dual roles allow Natasha the unique opportunity to understand and articulate viewpoints of both administration and students.

Natasha strives to implement innovative and systematic technological advances to academic advising and enrollment management.

visit author page

Download Paper |

Abstract

Foundational engineering courses are critical to student success in engineering programs. The conceptually challenging content of these courses establishes the requisite knowledge for future classes. Thus, it is no surprise that such courses can serve as barriers or gatekeepers to successful student progress through the undergraduate curriculum. Although the difficulty of the courses may be necessary, often other features of the course delivery such as large class environments or a few very high-stakes assessments can further exacerbate these challenges. And especially problematic, past studies have shown that grade penalties associated with these courses and environments may disproportionately impact women. On the faculty side, institutions often turn to non-tenure track instructional faculty to teach multiple sections of foundational courses each semester. Although having faculty whose sole role is dedicated to quality teaching is an asset, benefits would likely be maximized when such faculty have clear metrics for paths to promotion, some autonomy and ownership regarding the curriculum, and overall job satisfaction. However, literature suggests that faculty, like students, note ill effects from large classes, such as challenges connecting and building rapport with students and having time to offer individualized feedback to students.

Our NSF IUSE project focuses on instructors of large foundational engineering students with the belief that by better understanding the educational environment from their perspective we can improve the quality of the teaching and learning environment for all engineering students. Our project regularly convenes faculty teaching an array of core courses (e.g,. Mathematics, Chemistry, Mechanics, Physics) and uses insights from these meetings and individual interviews to identify possible leverage points where our project or the institution more broadly might affect change. Parallel to this effort, we have been working with data stewards on campus to gain access to institutional data (e.g., student course and grade histories, student evaluations of faculty teaching) to link and provide aggregate deidentified results to faculty to feed more information in to their decision-making.

We are demonstrating that regular engagement between faculty and institutional leaders around analyzed and curated data is essential to continuous and systematic improvement. Efforts to date have included building an institutional data explorer dashboard (e.g., influences of pre-requisite courses on future courses) and drafting reports to be sent to department heads and associate deans which gather priorities identified in the first year of our research. For example, participating instructors identified that clarity of promotion paths across non-tenure track teaching faculty from different departments varied greatly, and the institution as a whole could benefit from clarified university-wide guidance. While some findings may be institution-specific (NSF IUSE Institutional Transformation track), as a large public research institution, peer-institutions with high engineering enrollments often face similar challenges and so findings from our change efforts potentially have broad applicability.

Grohs, J. R., & Knight, D. B., & Soledad, M., & Murzi, H., & Smith, N. (2019, June), Board 62: Institutional Change Efforts to Improve the Environment for Both Instructors and Students in Foundational Engineering Courses Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32392

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2019 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015