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Design of Transformative Education and Authentic Learning Projects: Experiences and Lessons Learned from an International Multidisciplinary Research and Education Program on Flood Risk Reduction

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Ocean and Marine Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Ocean and Marine

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Paper Authors


Yoonjeong Lee Texas A&M University, Galveston

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- Assistant Research Scientist/Lecturer, Center for Texas Beaches and Shores, Texas A&M University at Galveston
- Education Program Director, NSF PIRE Coastal Flood Risk Reduction Program

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Baukje Bee Kothuis Delft University of Technology

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Dr. Kothuis is a design anthropologist, researching flood risk reduction structures & strategies and developing stakeholder inclusive design & knowledge integration practices.

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Antonia Sebastian Texas A&M University, Galveston

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Sam Brody

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As there is increasing emphasis on transformative education and authentic learning in interdisciplinary research projects, it is meaningful to investigate how to effectively design a multidisciplinary research and education program to ensure beneficial outcomes for participating students. This is especially important for ocean and coastal engineering programs that are likely the most multidisciplinary engineering programs. The NSF PIRE Coastal Flood Risk Reduction Program (CFRRP) is an international place and problem-based research education program in which students conduct case studies across the Houston-Galveston metropolitan area in the U.S. and in The Netherlands. There are three to four designated case studies (place-based) in each country, covering both surge-based and precipitation-driven flood problems (problem-based). From 2016 to 2018, there were three students research trips to the Netherlands (one each year) and totaling 42 U.S. students. Graduate and undergraduate students from four participating U.S. campuses (Texas A&M, Texas A&M at Galveston, Rice, and Jackson State) apply for a designated Dutch case study (among three to four, changes every year). Students from diverse disciplines, including engineering, planning, economics, hydrology, biology, architecture, geography, communications, and computational hydraulics, interested in flood risk reduction can apply. Those accepted into the program are placed in interdisciplinary research teams composed of 5-6 students: 1-2 PhD, 2-3 Masters, and 2-3 undergraduate students, guided by project faculty mentors from both U.S. and Dutch partner institutions. A two-week long research trip to the Netherlands provides transformative education and authentic learning environment through field trips, meeting with Dutch flood experts, lectures, and participation in design workshops. Also, students are required to present their research work three times while they are in the Netherlands: 5-minute research plan; 10-minute research progress; and 15-minute final presentation. By preparing these presentations, students learn how to collect data, interview stakeholders, lead/participate in brain-storming discussions, and adjust/improve their research products. Students also learn how to interact with people from different disciplines and look at the issues from diverse perspectives. This article describes the design process of the program, from initial development through to implementation. Reflections and lessons learned from three years (out of five years) of experiences are shared.

Lee, Y., & Kothuis, B. B., & Sebastian, A., & Brody, S. (2019, June), Design of Transformative Education and Authentic Learning Projects: Experiences and Lessons Learned from an International Multidisciplinary Research and Education Program on Flood Risk Reduction Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32608

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