June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
Liberal Education/Engineering & Society, Engineering Ethics, and Educational Research and Methods
26.508.1 - 26.508.25
Evaluating the Attainment of Sustainability-Related Learning ObjectivesIn this paper, we present the development and refinement of a survey that evaluatessustainability-related learning objectives aligned with courses participating in a multipleuniversity initiative. The first part of this study seeks to determine the reliability of the survey,along with recommendations for where the survey ought to be improved. Second, we use thequantitative survey results to evaluate student’s attainment of the course learning objectives. Thesurvey consisted of 28-items across 4 subscales aligned with the following learning objectivesand sub-objectives:As a result of participating in the course, students will be able to… 1) Develop confidence in responding to wicked, sustainability-related problems 2) Become conscious of the ethical and professional responsibilities within their field in a (a) global, (b) social, and (c) environmental contextThe survey was administered pre-course to 67 students across 3 universities: a large publicuniversity in Midwestern USA, a large public university in Northeastern US, and a privateuniversity in the Midwest. Using pre-course responses, the internal consistency reliability ofsubscales 1, 2a, and 2b was found to be acceptable as measured using Cronbach’s alpha and a 0.7threshold, whereas subscale 2d was only minimally acceptable with an alpha of 0.656. Post-course responses will be used to check these reliability scores a second time and to provideinsights into whether specific questions should be removed or rewritten, and to suggest whetheradditional items may need to be added to these subscales.The survey results show that there is room for students to improve across all categories, whilealso pointing to marked differences in where students at the differing universities started from.For example, students in the Northeastern US course offering looked to be significantly moreconfident in responding to wicked problems as compared to students at the Midwestern privateuniversity, whereas students from the large Midwestern public university seem to besignificantly more aware of global sustainability issues as compared to those at the privateuniversity. Along each scale, paired t-test results will be used to compare individual students’differences pre- and post- course overall for the 67 students, and individually for each university.In addition to these quantitative responses, we will collect and seek alignment between the t-testresults and students’ perceptions of changes across each learning objective using open-endedresponses collected at the end of each survey. These open response questions will include thefollowing: 1) How did your confidence in responding to wicked problems change? 2) How did your perception of your professional responsibility as a professional designer change?Results of this study will provide a quantitative measure that may be replicated at universitiesparticipating in the initiative in the future, as well as anyone hoping to measure similar learningobjectives. Furthermore, it will suggest which learning objectives were attained in the Fall 2014course offerings, and where more foci may be needed in future offerings of these courses.
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