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Developing and Sustaining Inclusive Engineering Learning Communities and Classrooms

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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Jessica Vaden University of Pittsburgh

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Miss Jessica Vaden is a 3rd Year PhD student in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh where she is a STRIVE Scholar. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) in Chemical Engineering where she was a Meyerhoff Scholar (M26). Jessica’s research spans a few different areas including sustainable engineering, empowering communities about air quality, and engineering education efforts to create inclusive classrooms and programming under the broad theme of improving the environment to improve people’s quality of life.

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Melissa Bilec University of Pittsburgh


April Dukes University of Pittsburgh

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Dr. April Dukes is the Faculty and Future Faculty Program Director for the Engineering Educational Research Center (EERC) and the Institutional Co-leader for Pitt-CIRTL (Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning) at the University of Pittsburgh. She leads local professional development courses and facilitate workshops on instructional, advising, and mentoring best practices for both current and future STEM faculty. I also work alongside faculty seeking to better the experiences of undergraduate and graduate students through educational research. April also currently collaborates on the national educational research initiative, the Aspire Alliance’s National Change, to support systemic changes towards excellence and inclusivity in higher education.

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Amy Nave

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Amy Landis

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Kristen Parrish Arizona State University

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Historically underrepresented students experience situations in the classroom that can negatively impact and undermine student performance and persistence. To aid students, and in particular historically underrepresented students, succeed both academically and socially, previous research has indicated that instructors should create classroom environments that model inclusivity and belonging. However, there is a lack of specific guidance for how to create these environments, especially in engineering classrooms where much of the focus is on technical content. This study is addressing this gap through developing and providing pragmatic, proven, and trusted practices for engineering faculty who are seeking to make their classrooms more inclusive environments for all students.

This research is informed by and aligned with the Theory of Change Model developed by Henderson, Beach, and Finkelstein which notes 4 categories of change strategies for higher education: disseminating curriculum and pedagogy, developing reflective teachers, enacting policy, and developing a shared vision among teachers and stakeholders. We have developed and piloted a list of inclusive classroom practices along with specific details, including implementation times, examples, and difficulty levels, to help faculty prioritize the practices. To support these efforts, we have also convened inclusive classroom focused learning communities for faculty. We are in the process of evaluating the effectiveness of these practices by examining student and faculty perceptions of the classroom environment through feedback and assessments including surveys and interviews.

Following the completion of these tasks, the inclusive practices list will be refined and implemented in classrooms participating in the study. After further study, the practices will be shared across diversity, equity, and inclusion engineering networks to serve as a model for creating more inclusive classrooms.

Vaden, J., & Bilec, M., & Dukes, A., & Nave, A., & Landis, A., & Parrish, K. (2022, August), Developing and Sustaining Inclusive Engineering Learning Communities and Classrooms Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN.

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