Virtual - 1pm to 5pm Eastern Time Each Day
January 24, 2021
January 24, 2021
January 28, 2021
Diversity and CoNECD Paper Submissions
This presentation describes several initiatives currently underway within a large software engineering (SE) department at a private university within the northeast US to positively affect levels of inclusiveness within the department’s learning environment. Information gathered from faculty, staff, student interviews and focus group discussions, as well as a department goal to improve female freshmen retention in the SE major motivated the SE department chair, departmental academic advisors and faculty, and the college’s women in computing director to launch this set of aligned activities in collaboration with the NSF ADVANCE funded program (NSF #1209115) at the university level. The resulting activities ideally enhance diversity and inclusion for students from all underrepresented groups in the program with a focus on groups based on gender.
Four experiential learning experiences have been created and concurrently implemented within the SE department to promote an inclusive academic environment. These include: (1) faculty targeted discussions and summer readings, (2) an interactive workshop designed for all first year SE students, (3) a workshop created for the coaches and sponsors, most of who are not regular RIT employees, who directly mentor student teams for the two-semester senior project course, and (4) the development of a resource flowchart which supports students, faculty, and staff in maintaining an inclusive learning environment within the department. The approach used in creating each is adaptive and the four resulting products are multi-faceted in regards to target audience, modality of learning experience, and composition of creation team. Furthermore, we will discuss key metrics aligned with the department’s goal to measure impacts resulting from these experiential learning experiences.
The SE department is within a large, private university which is committed to experiential learning within its undergraduate engineering curriculum. The university has one of the oldest cooperative education programs in the country and firmly believes in learning through doing.
This presentation describes how an experiential learning model is used to improve learning and accelerate needed academic cultural changes within the department. The experiential learning methodology is based on an existing educational model which includes four basic stages; active experiences, reflective observations, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation. This experiential learning model is used throughout the development of each intervention and while creating the overall strategy. Within the faculty targeted discussions and the workshops for first year students and for coaches/sponsors, experiential learning approaches provide opportunities for participants to experience nuanced concepts first-hand while developing meaningful understanding of these concepts and how they operate in the academic environment. In addition, the development of the flowchart is an experiential learning experience for the development team which consists of faculty, staff, and students.
A flowchart serves as an additional layer to motivate, reinforce and strengthen knowledge and skills developed through the faculty discussions and workshops and to promote organizational transformation towards a more inclusive academic environment. The flowchart clearly articulates the desired state within the SE program – a place which represents a vibrant learning environment that respects and values all individuals. Framing for the flowchart answers the question, “What is required to make intentional change/transformation of culture happen?” This is addressed through four approaches: (1) Share a clear vision/articulation of the desired state and key metrics to measure progress towards the vision. (2) Begin the process of translating the vision at the group, team, and individual levels to determine implications on the work. (3) Develop understandable expectations for people so they can achieve the desired state. What do people need to do/do differently today to make tomorrow different from yesterday? (4) Describe how we/we will hold ourselves and others in our environment accountable?
This presentation describes how experiential learning has been incorporated within each of the four interventions in order to improve learning and promote an inclusive, vibrant academic environment as well as detailed descriptions of each activity, workshop evaluation results, and future plans.
Bailey, M. B., & Sharma, N., & Verschage, L., & Conlon, T. T. (2021, January), Creating an Inclusive, Vibrant Learning Environment within a Large Software Engineering Program – Experiential Learning Experiences Created for Students, Faculty, and Senior Design Coaches & Sponsors Paper presented at 2021 CoNECD, Virtual - 1pm to 5pm Eastern Time Each Day . https://strategy.asee.org/36077
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