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Developing Self-awareness in Learning Practices: Designing and Implementing a Survival Tool for Freshmen in Engineering

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Technological and Engineering Literacy/Philosophy of Engineering Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Technological and Engineering Literacy/Philosophy of Engineering

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Paper Authors

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Neelam Prabhu Gaunkar Iowa State University


Mani Mina Iowa State University

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Mani Mina is with the department of Industrial Design and Electrical and Computer Engineering at Iowa State University. He has been working on better understanding of students' learning and aspects of technological and engineering philosophy and literacy. In particular how such literacy and competency are reflected in curricular and student activities. His interests also include Design and Engineering, the human side of engineering, new ways of teaching engineering in particular Electromagnetism and other classes that are mathematically driven. His research and activities also include on avenues to connect Product Design and Engineering Education in a synergetic way.

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Freshmen engineering courses are considered to have a huge impact in the student’s perception of engineering and university education [1-4]. Primarily this is because freshmen courses are multifaceted: students form communities, learn introductory fundamentals and engage in developing critical thinking abilities. Besides these, often, students also find that several courses demand finding a single correct answer and thereafter they begin to develop learning patterns that enable them to find answers instead of critically thinking about problems.

Answer-based learning patterns are often representative of memorization and not in the best interest of student’s learning. They also affect the student’s growth and transition to higher learning stages as described in Bloom’s Taxonomy [5]. To overcome these limitations, the focus of our freshman engineering course is to inculcate awareness within each student’s minds about his/her learning patterns, preferences and techniques. The motive is to enable each student to play their strength and build on their existing learning methods instead of training to do the bare minimum to satisfy the course requirements.

Our methods originate from Dewey’s extensive work on inquiry-based learning and other prior work [6-8]. Through the lab and in-class activities, students are engaged in a cycle of developing inquiries or questions about their own work or asked to raise questions on specific writing related to the field. These activities are designed to lead students into creating questions pertaining to their personal curiosity and at the same time reflecting and developing their personal “thinking” identities.

Ultimately, through the course of the semester, it is expected that the texture of the student’s inquiries improves with their learning capabilities. At the same time, the students become aware of their personal learning and thinking methods and may tend to apply them to higher level courses.

In our work we will present an evaluation of student’s inquiries, reflective writings and in-class discussions on the basis of the texture in the development of the problems, phenomenographic characteristics and different rhetorical trends. Through this work, it is expected that the importance of developing a “self-identity” for freshmen is recognized and adapted for upper level courses.

[1]. Daly, Shanna R., Erika A. Mosyjowski, and Colleen M. Seifert. "Teaching creativity in engineering courses." Journal of Engineering Education 103, no. 3 (2014): 417-449. [2]. Felder, Richard M., and Rebecca Brent. "Understanding student differences." Journal of engineering education 94, no. 1 (2005): 57-72. [3]. Courter, Sandra Shaw, Susan B. Millar, and Lyman Lyons. "From the students' point of view: Experiences in a freshman engineering design course." Journal of engineering education 87, no. 3 (1998): 283-288. [4]. Besterfield‐Sacre, Mary, Cynthia J. Atman, and Larry J. Shuman. "Characteristics of freshman engineering students: Models for determining student attrition in engineering." Journal of Engineering Education 86, no. 2 (1997): 139-149. [5]. Anderson, Lorin W., David R. Krathwohl, P. Airasian, K. Cruikshank, R. Mayer, P. Pintrich, J. Raths, and M. Wittrock. "A taxonomy for learning, teaching and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy." New York. Longman Publishing. Artz, AF, & Armour-Thomas, E.(1992). Development of a cognitive-metacognitive framework for protocol analysis of mathematical problem solving in small groups. Cognition and Instruction 9, no. 2 (2001): 137-175. [6]. Mina, Mani, John Cowan, and John Heywood. "Case for reflection in engineering education-and an alternative." Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE), 2015. 32614 2015. IEEE. IEEE, 2015. [7]. Pritchard, John W., Mani Mina, and Adrian Moore. "Work in progress: A comprehensive approach for mapping student's progress: Assessing student progress in freshman engineering." Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE), 2012. IEEE, 2012. [8]. Pritchard, John W., and Mani Mina. "Hands-on, discovery, critical thinking, and freshman engineering: A systems level approach to learning and discovery." American Society for Engineering Education. American Society for Engineering Education, 2012.

Prabhu Gaunkar, N., & Mina, M. (2018, June), Developing Self-awareness in Learning Practices: Designing and Implementing a Survival Tool for Freshmen in Engineering Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30312

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