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Community Health Innovation through an Interprofessional Course

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Course Efforts

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

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Paper Authors


Jacquelyn Kay Nagel James Madison University

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Dr. Jacquelyn K. Nagel is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering at James Madison University. She has eight years of diversified engineering design experience, both in academia and industry, and has experienced engineering design in a range of contexts, including product design, bio-inspired design, electrical and control system design, manufacturing system design, and design for the factory floor. Dr. Nagel earned her Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Oregon State University and her M.S. and B.S. in manufacturing engineering and electrical engineering, respectively, from the Missouri University of Science and Technology. Dr. Nagel’s long-term goal is to drive engineering innovation by applying her multidisciplinary engineering expertise to instrumentation and manufacturing challenges.

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Patrice M. Ludwig James Madison University Orcid 16x16

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Patrice Ludwig is an Assiatant Professor of Biology at James Madison University. She earned her doctoral degree in biology from the University of Virginia. Her research interests are in understanding changes in undergraduate attitudes and knowledge as a result of work across disciplines to solve real world problems. She also studies using artificial substrates to restore and conserve oyster reefs.

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The broad goal of this interprofessional course is to allow pre-professional biology, pre-nursing, and engineering students to leverage maker space technology to produce and communicate tangible solutions to current challenges in community health. For the past two iterations of the course students developed solutions to metabolic syndrome using maker space technologies (3D printing, laser cutters/engravers, virtual reality, and related software). Communication between disciplines that impact each other but may have different biases and goals is important, and is facilitated through teamwork. In the course, students receive explicit training in problem solving techniques, teamwork, and communication. For example, students form their teams using the Strengths Finder analysis to build on the individual strengths present in the group and the teams watch a video on the challenger disaster to evaluate the systemic reasons that led to a failure in team decision making. Additionally, the maker space is used to foster creative problem solving, collaboration skills, and knowledge of technologies that may shape their professions’ future.

The instructors’ role in the course is to serve as facilitators and guides while students work to develop their solutions. This process ensures that students take ownership of their project as an engaged team and that students strengthen their problem-solving and collaboration skills. By modeling the course project interdisciplinary team structure with an interdisciplinary teaching team, the aim is to promote interdisciplinary learning, foster teamwork among the student teams, and improve student engagement. Other course objectives are to develop students’ creative problem solving, empathetic design practices, interprofessional communication skills, prototyping skills, and ethical reasoning. Students are expected to become proficient at the empathetic design process as well as interprofessional communication. Creative problem solving, ethical reasoning, and realization of a product through prototyping are expected to be emergent skills that will need further refinement after the course.

Research was conducted with consenting participants from the course using qualitative content analysis of student responses to prompts with the aim of assessing course outcomes. Results indicate that the multidisciplinary experience and use of and maker technologies enhance student learning and engagement, foster teamwork and interprofessional skills, and increase students’ ability to innovate.

Nagel, J. K., & Ludwig, P. M., & Lewis, E. J. (2017, June), Community Health Innovation through an Interprofessional Course Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28051

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