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Combining Strategies for Leadership Development of Engineering Students

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Experiences of Underrepresented Students in Engineering

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Nayda G. Santiago University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus Orcid 16x16

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Nayda G. Santiago is professor at the Electrical and Computer Engineering department, University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus (UPRM) where she teaches the Capstone Course in Computer Engineering. She received an BS in EE from the University of PR, Mayaguez in 1989, a MEng in EE from Cornell University in 1990, and a PhD in EE from Michigan State University in 2003. She leads the Southeast region of the Computing Alliance for Hispanic Serving Institutions (CAHSI). Dr. Santiago is NCWIT academic alliance member, member of Henaac, SACNAS, IEEE, and ACM.

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Manuel A. Jimenez University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus

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Dr. Jimenez is a professor at the Electrical & Computer Engineering Department in the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez (UPRM). He earned his B.S from Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic in 1986, M.S. from Univ. of Puerto Rico Mayaguez in 1991, and Ph.D. from Michigan State University in 1999. His current teaching and research interests include design, characterization, and rapid prototyping of information processing systems, embedded cyber-physical systems, and engineering education. He is the lead author of the textbook Introduction to Embedded Systems: Using Microcontrollers and the MSP430 (Springer 2014). From 2013 to 2018 served as Associate Dean of engineering at UPRM. He currently directs the Engineering PEARLS program at UPRM, a College-wide NSF funded initiative, and coordinates the Rapid Systems Prototyping and the Electronic Testing and Characterization Laboratories at UPRM. He is a member of ASEE and IEEE.

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Luisa Guillemard University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus

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Luisa Guillemard is a psychology professor at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus. She has a M.S. in Clinical Psychology from the Caribbean Center of Advanced Studies in Puerto Rico [today the Carlos Albizu University] and a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from Texas A&M University, post-graduate training in evaluation at The Evaluators Institute (TEI) at George Washington University and the AEA/CDC Summer Evaluation Institute. Besides teaching, she has worked as an evaluator in grants awarded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes of Health (NIH), US Department of Agriculture (USDA), and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Currently she is the internal evaluator for the projects Recruiting, Retaining and Engaging Academically Talented Students from Economically Disadvantaged Groups into a Pathway to Successful Engineering Careers (PEARLS) and for Building Capacity at Collaborative Undergraduate STEM Program in Resilient and Sustainable Infrastructure (RISE-UP). Both projects are funded by NSF.

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Fundamental engineering skills include project management, teamwork, communication, and leadership. In the traditional classroom, opportunities for developing these skills are scarce. Moreover, sometimes when students are exposed to activities for skill development, they may learn the concept in a superficial way. We present a methodology used to train a subset of students from a program for Low Income Academically Talented Students (LIATS) to promote the development of teamwork, planning, leadership, and communication skills. This methodology is based on a cognitive apprentice framework where coaching was used to combine Peer Led Team Learning Model (PLTL), Cooperative Learning, and Reflection.

LIATS from diverse engineering disciplines were volunteered to participate as PLTL peer leaders and went through a process of training on the principles and procedures of PLTL and cooperative learning. The subject matter to be covered in PLTL sessions were resume building and the creation of e-portfolios. All participating students in the project were divided among PLTL leaders, and two PLTL sessions were conducted. In both instances leaders met to prepare the activities, incorporated active learning tasks to follow a cooperative learning model in the classroom, delivered the session, and, after the session, proceeded with a reflection on what worked well and what did not work as expected.

Grounded theory was used to identify the emerging theories that explain the learning process of leaders. The first step was to analyze the narratives of the reflection of leaders. Nine out of ten leaders participated in the reflection process. For the first session, difficulties for accommodating to each other’s work styles emerged as a common theme. Presentation skills were improved, communication improved, and leaders expressed that they learned about teamwork and how to mentor others. They were not effective in convening the students; therefore, few students attended sessions. Difficulties in planning and finding available rooms were commonly found among the leaders. For the second session, leaders were more comfortable with each other, teamwork improved, group dynamics improved, and more students participated. Leaders expressed that sessions were more successful, and the exchange of ideas occurred in their respective trainings. Engagement of students in the sessions emerged as a common topic. They self-evaluated as having improvements in mentoring, planning, and communication skills. This paper reports on the design of the methodology, the reflection of students, and the emerging theories. A discussion on pros and cons of this implementation follows.

Santiago, N. G., & Jimenez, M. A., & Guillemard, L. (2020, June), Combining Strategies for Leadership Development of Engineering Students Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34303

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