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Board 9: Measuring Change: Research Updates Helping Engineering Students Tackle Complex Sustainability Problems

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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

6

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/32456

Download Count

1

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Paper Authors

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Elise Barrella Wake Forest University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-0020-2035

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Dr. Elise Barrella is an Assistant Professor and Founding Faculty Member of the Department of Engineering at Wake Forest University. She is passionate about curriculum development, scholarship and student mentoring on transportation systems, sustainability, and engineering design. Dr. Barrella completed her Ph.D. in Civil Engineering at Georgia Tech where she conducted research in transportation and sustainability as part of the Infrastructure Research Group (IRG). In addition to the Ph.D. in Civil Engineering, Dr. Barrella holds a Master of City and Regional Planning (Transportation) from Georgia Institute of Technology and a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Bucknell University. Dr. Barrella has investigated best practices in engineering education since 2003 (at Bucknell University) and began collaborating on sustainable engineering design research while at Georgia Tech. Prior to joining the WFU faculty, she led the junior capstone design sequence at James Madison University, was the inaugural director of the NAE Grand Challenges Program at JMU, and developed first-year coursework.

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Mary Katherine Watson The Citadel Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-1718-5825

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Dr. Mary Katherine Watson is currently an Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at The Citadel. Prior to joining the faculty at The Citadel, Dr. Watson earned her PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering from The Georgia Institute of Technology. She also has BS and MS degrees in Biosystems Engineering from Clemson University. Dr. Watson’s research interests are in the areas of engineering education and biological waste treatment.

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Robin Anderson James Madison University

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Robin D. Anderson serves as the Academic Unit Head for the Department of Graduate Psychology at James Madison University. She holds a doctorate in Assessment and Measurement. She previously served as the Associate Director of the Center for Assessment and Research Studies at JMU. Her areas of research include assessment practice and engineering education research.

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Charles McDonald Cowan II Wake Forest University

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Mack Cowan is a recent graduate of James Madison University's Psychological Sciences M.A. program. His primary research interests are sleep and pharmacology using animal models, the psychology of learning, statistical analyses in behavioral research, and more recently, engineering education.

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Justyn Daniel Girdner James Madison University

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Abstract

Real-world engineering challenges are open-ended, multi-faceted, and exist within a societal context, requiring knowledge from multiple domains (technical, environmental, economic, and social). Undergraduates gain knowledge in each of those domains from both engineering and non-engineering classes but need guidance when drawing on that knowledge to solve new, complex problems. The research goals guiding this NSF-REE project include: (1) Identify appropriate measures of knowledge transfer/cognitive flexibility that apply to open-ended tasks; (2) Develop and adapt instructional materials and direct assessments to measure and improve students’ ability to transfer knowledge to/across problems; (3) Explore differences in students’ responses to the interventions between different types of engineering programs. The poster will share progress related to each of the goals through methods and results from two types of studies: (1) exploring neuroscience theories and measures related to cognitive load, efficiency, and flexibility for complex problem-solving; and (2) developing and testing a Sustainable Design rubric for use with multi-disciplinary engineering capstone design projects. New activity is described below, including specific objectives for the work and results. After a successful pilot project with an electroencephalogram (EEG), we initiated a study using EEG and self-report data to investigate students’ cognitive activities when completing different tasks related to sustainability like food security and water availability. In particular we are comparing cognitive functions and activation during linear thinking (i.e., listing) tasks and systems thinking (i.e., concept mapping) tasks. We hypothesized that (1) concept maps allow individuals to organize their thoughts within a systems thinking framework, and thus result in a more complete and holistic response than a linear thinking equivalent (i.e., listing task); and (2) creating a concept map is a more complex cognitive process than writing a list of terms and thus students (at least initially) would experience greater cognitive load during cmap tasks.

Rubric work aims to provide engineering educators and students with a learning and assessment tool to enhance sustainable design outcomes of projects. In prior work, expert feedback substantiated parallel validation efforts using text mapping to establish sustainable development frameworks. Guided by the analyses, we iteratively reduced the rubric to 14 distinct criteria, and identified three scoring dimensions (quantitative & qualitative evidence, long-term thinking and lifecycle, and formal methods/documentation) as important considerations for all of the criteria rather than stand-alone criteria. The rubric development process has moved from substantive validation to structural validation with student projects. The first structural study was conducted in Spring 2018 with 51 student users for formative assessment of their preliminary capstone project work. We are currently reviewing quantitative and qualitative data to answer questions such as: (1) Is there a range of responses on the items? Are students using the full 0-3 scale? (2) Which items do we expect to be related? Which items perform as expected? (3) Is there more rating variability across individuals or criteria? The primary objective of analyzing this data, including qualitative coding, is to improve the rubric in terms of content, structure, and implementation. Future work will address other audiences and assessment purposes.

Barrella, E., & Watson, M. K., & Anderson, R., & Cowan, C. M., & Girdner, J. D. (2019, June), Board 9: Measuring Change: Research Updates Helping Engineering Students Tackle Complex Sustainability Problems Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. https://peer.asee.org/32456

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