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Cross-Departmental Teaming Exercise as a Teaching Tool for Efficient Student Learning and Advancement of Science and Engineering

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Civil Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.426.1 - 26.426.11



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Paper Authors


James L. Hanson California Polytechnic State University

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James L. Hanson is a professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department of California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo.

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Amro El Badawy

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Dr. Amro El Badawy is the W.M. Keck Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the Global Waste Research Institute at Cal Poly.

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Katherine C. Chen California Polytechnic State University

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Dr. Katherine C. Chen is Professor and Chair of the Materials Engineering Department at the California Polytechnic (Cal Poly) State University, San Luis Obispo. Her degrees in Materials Science are from Michigan State University and MIT. She teaches a wide variety of different engineering courses and her research interests include diversity in STEM, lifelong learning, and informal education.

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Nazli Yesiller

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Cross-Departmental Teaming Exercise as a Teaching Tool for Efficient Student Learning and Advancement of Science and EngineeringA cross-departmental learning activity was conducted at XYZ University between Civil andEnvironmental Engineering CE 587 (Geoenvironmental Engineering,) and Materials EngineeringME 232 (Materials, Ethics, and Society) students. Both classes separately received a devotedlecture on the environmental implications of nanotechnology.  Then,  the students in CE 587 wereasked to provide guidance and recommendations to six groups of students in ME 232 fordeveloping environmentally friendly methods for the synthesis of silver nanomaterials. Eachstudent group in ME 232 was subsequently required to respond and address two of therecommendations provided by the students in CE 587. A report containing the studentrecommendations, the student responses, and faculty perspective was developed and provided toall participants. The efficacy and the outcomes of the activity were not impacted by thedifference in student levels (graduate students in CE 587 and undergraduate students in ME 232).The different perspectives on synthesis of nanomaterials were highlighted in the project withregard to material performance (ME 232 students) and with regard to fate in the environment(CE587 students). Through this exercise, students were able to understand the connection andsignificance of life cycle of material production (i.e., from product development to potentialrelease to the environment). The assessment of this teaming activity demonstrated that some ofthe suggestions and responses qualified as high level research projects that could contribute tothe healthy growth of nanotechnology. Adopting cross-departmental teaming exercises as a toolin engineering education provides opportunities not only from a pedagogical standpoint but alsoas a potential mechanism for generating research questions that can contribute to theadvancement of science and engineering. In addition to the teaming exercise, assessment wasconducted to evaluate student learning of the environmental aspects of nanotechnology. The pre-and post-lecture assessments were conducted using quizzes and examinations. The assessmentquestions were designed to align with various levels of Blooms’s taxonomy of cognitiveachievement. The results of the assessment indicated that less than 10% of the students correctlyanswered the pre-assessment questions compared to more than 75% of the students for the post-assessment questions. The lecture module, the teaming exercise, and the correspondingassessment activities discussed herein are part of a broad educational project aiming at bringingcontemporary topics into the undergraduate STEM curriculum at XYZ University throughdeveloping and implementing teaching and learning tools in a wide range of disciplines rangingfrom technical (e.g., science and engineering) to non-technical (e.g., liberal arts and business)fields. The challenges associated with this unique teaching methodology and strategies forsuccessful implementation of cross-departmental and graduate/undergraduate teaming exercisesare described in the paper. 1    

Hanson, J. L., & El Badawy, A., & Chen, K. C., & Yesiller, N. (2015, June), Cross-Departmental Teaming Exercise as a Teaching Tool for Efficient Student Learning and Advancement of Science and Engineering Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23765

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