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Convergent Learning from Divergent Perspectives: An Executive Summary of the Pilot Study

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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

NSF Grantees: Faculty Development 2

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NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Renee Rigrish Pelan Ohio State University

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Renee Rigrish Pelan is an Engineering Education graduate student at The Ohio State University. She is working on the AISL grant as a Graduate Research Associate under Dr. Rachel Louis Kajfez. She holds an M.S. degree in Industrial & Human Factors Engineering and a B.S. in Industrial & Systems Engineering from Wright State University. Her research interests include diversity in engineering, teaching methods, and informal learning environments.

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Tylesha D. Drayton Ohio State University

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Tylesha D. Drayton, EIT is pursuing a PhD as a graduate student in the Engineering Education Department at The Ohio State University. She earned a BS in Civil Engineering, a MS degree in Environmental Engineering, and a MS degree in Engineering and Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University. Her research interest includes engineering education, student entrepreneurship and innovation, culture and identity, makerspaces and technology-assisted learning.

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Rachel Louis Kajfez Ohio State University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Rachel Louis Kajfez is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at The Ohio State University. She earned her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Civil Engineering from Ohio State and earned her Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Virginia Tech. Her research interests focus on the intersection between motivation and identity of undergraduate and graduate students, first-year engineering programs, mixed methods research, and innovative approaches to teaching.

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Julia Armstrong Ohio State University

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Julia Armstrong is the Director of the OHI/O Informal Learning Program at the Ohio State University (OSU). She combines engineering (BS ECE), public teaching of gifted education (M.Ed.) and industry experience (PMP, CSM) to grow the offerings and strength of the program and build rapport with the industry partners. She uses her diverse interests and skills to bridge the gap between curricular education and skills of the working professional. In 2018, Armstrong was part of a multi-disciplinary team from Ohio State to receive a 3-year NSF award for Advancing Informal STEM Learning.

In her two years at Ohio State, Armstrong designed and partnered on a wide variety of educational events for students to explore through active learning experiences. She focuses on current trends and connecting students to industry representatives, emphasizing open-ended problem-based learning, encouraging students to continue exploration of topics and challenges of interest. Armstrong has grown the OHI/O Informal Learning Program from a few events to two dozen, now serving over 1,200 students annually, including several K12 outreach events.

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Science communication is important issue as our global society continues to grow. While most researchers are comfortable conveying their findings to their peers especially within their discipline, there is room for improvement when communicating scientific discovery to the general public. Increased engagement with science is a gateway for individuals to pursue STEM related careers. There is a pressing need for both stronger public engagement with science and improve communication of science. We set out to develop a collaborative program that connects and prepares researchers from divergent disciplines to creatively and effectively communicate science around convergent themes to public audiences of all ages.

We created an innovative program, building on existing infrastructure, capacity, and community partnerships to bring together researchers from divergent perspectives and disciplines to develop and study in an informal learning program to improve their communication of science around convergent themes. After receiving training, researchers presented to public audiences of all ages in unstructured and semi structured learning environments such as a science center and a high school hackathon. Researchers presented as individuals as well as within groups organized around a conceptual theme. Short and medium-term learning outcomes of the participants were evaluated across three different informal learning settings. We also studied the development of the researchers’ motivations and identity as they progress through the program by employing the Longitudinal Model of Motivation and Identity theoretical framework.

For this poster and executive summary, we will provide an overview of project and initial analysis. As the research evolves, we hope to see an increase in researcher motivation to communicate science to the general public. We expect that participant creativity and innovation will also increase due to the interdisciplinary interactions amongst the researchers. These collaborations may continue beyond the project which will enhance the overall academic ecosystem. Sharing their passion for research with the public will have an impact especially on traditionally underserved or underrepresented populations in STEM, engaging them in a new and interesting way.

Pelan, R. R., & Drayton, T. D., & Kajfez, R. L., & Armstrong, J. (2020, June), Convergent Learning from Divergent Perspectives: An Executive Summary of the Pilot Study Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34333

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