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Designing Interdisciplinary Curriculum & Teaching: Investigating Innovation & Our Engineered World

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Teaching Technological Literacy - College Courses and Minors

Tagged Division

Technological Literacy Constituent Committee

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.366.1 - 15.366.26



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Paper Authors


Austin Talley University of Texas, Austin

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Austin Talley is a graduate student in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Texas at Austin, a Cockrell Fellow, and a licensed Professional Engineer. His research focus is in design methodology with Universal Design and engineering education. He has received his B.S. from Texas A&M University and M.S.E. from The University of Texas at Austin. Contact:

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Christina White Columbia University

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Christina White is a doctoral candidate in Curriculum & Teaching at Teachers College, Columbia University and is the senior coordinator for Design, Technology, & Engineering for All Children. Her research is in engineering education with a focus on humanitarian engineering, design, diversity, and the NAE's 21st century grand challenges. She has earned her M. Ed from The University of Texas at Austin. Contact:

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Kristin Wood University of Texas, Austin

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Richard Crawford University of Texas at Austin

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Designing and Teaching Interdisciplinary Curriculum: Investigating Innovation and Our Engineered World


Through a curriculum reform initiative, The University of Texas at Austin is developing “signature courses” for freshman undergraduate students. These courses expose students to a variety of subjects and engage them in a variety of skill sets. These are “signature” courses because they are developed and taught by the university’s top teaching faculty, where the goals are to foster a scholarly community and to create the most interesting and meaningful classes possible. Embarking on its third year, Undergraduate Studies 302: The Engineered World: Products and Innovations, focuses on innovation in the context of the engineering design process. This course is team taught, featuring two tenured Mechanical Engineering professors and two doctorial candidates (one in Mechanical Engineering and the other in Education, Curriculum and Teaching). Due to the phased implementation of the curriculum reform, the college of engineering does not yet require undergraduate students to take a signature course. Resulting from this situation, non- engineering majors populate this engineering signature course.

As part of the development of this new course, we carefully documented curriculum development and assessment, thereby facilitating communication among the teaching team members. To this end the teaching team maintains a lesson diary of the course. Assessment of the course is continually monitored through directed discussion of the course with students, review of work produced by the students, and written reflection of the course by the students. The written reflections are discussed within the class and show that the students are gaining a deep understanding of the engineering design concepts and are actively engaged in the course. Students connect to this course of study through the use of active learning methods, including hands-on activities, inductive and deductive reasoning opportunities, and multimodal experiences. Further, group work is enhanced by considering ways to group students based upon personality types and other team-formation strategies rather than relying on self-formed teams.

The cumulative research data incorporates the reflections about curriculum and teaching from the students and instructors; an array of pedagogical practices; recognition of varied learning and teaching styles; and multiple literacies practices 1,2,3,4,5,6,7. We have employed both quantitative and qualitative approaches to understand these data. This mixed-methods analysis offers insights into effective approaches to teaching engineering concepts to non-engineering majors. The course provides a foundation for developing other engineering courses for non-engineers. Our research demonstrates tools that engineering educators and other scholars can apply in designing their own curricula on innovation and serves as a model of co-teaching.

Talley, A., & White, C., & Wood, K., & Crawford, R. (2010, June), Designing Interdisciplinary Curriculum & Teaching: Investigating Innovation & Our Engineered World Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16137

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