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Diverse Engineering Faculty’s Perceptions and Practice of Active Learning at a Southwestern University Abstract

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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

Faculty Development Technical Paper Session

Tagged Division

Faculty Development Constituent Committee

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Paper Authors

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Karan Watson P.E. Texas A&M University


So Yoon Yoon Texas A&M University Orcid 16x16

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So Yoon Yoon, Ph.D., is an associate research scientist at Institute for Engineering Education and Innovation (IEEI) in College of Engineering at Texas A&M University and Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES). She received a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology with specialties in Gifted Education and a M.S.Ed. in Educational Psychology with specialties in Research Methods and Measurement both from Purdue University. She also holds a M.S. in Astronomy and Astrophysics and a B.S. in Astronomy and Meteorology both from Kyungpook National University in South Korea. Her work centers on engineering education research, as a psychometrician, program evaluator, and institutional data analyst. She has research interests on spatial ability, creativity, gifted education, STEM education, and meta-analyses. She has authored/co-authored more than 50 peer-reviewed journal articles and conference proceedings and served as a journal reviewer in engineering education, STEM education, and educational psychology, as well as a co-PI, an external evaluator or advisory board member on several NSF-funded projects (CAREER, iCorps, REU, RIEF, etc.).

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Samantha Michele Shields Texas A&M University

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Samantha Shields is an Instructional Consultant at the Texas A&M University's Center for Teaching Excellence. She is currently working on her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction at Texas A&M University, where she is concentrating on Teacher Education and Technology. Mrs. Shields taught an adjunct lecturer in the College of Education’s Teaching, Learning, and Culture department before transitioning to serving as a graduate assistant in the Center for Teaching Excellence, where she helps to develop curriculum.

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Luciana Barroso Texas A&M University Orcid 16x16

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Luciana R. Barroso, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Structural Engineering in the Department of Civil Engineering, in the Dwight Look College of Engineering at Texas A&M University. Luciana has been with Texas A&M University since 1999, and in that time has taught 15 different courses ranging from the freshman to graduate levels. She has been active in academic program and curriculum development from the department level to the university level, where she served as co-chair of the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) committee that determined the academic course of actions to be taken over the next accreditation cycle to addresses critical issues related to enhancing student learning. She has received funding for her engineering education research from the Department of Education FIPSE program and from the National Science Foundation (NSF) CCLI program. She also has been involved in several professional developments that were provided by the Aggie STEM Center to Texas ISD teachers. Her research interests include structural health monitoring and control, structural dynamics, earthquake engineering, and engineering education.

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Sunay Palsole Texas A&M University

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Dr. Palsole is Assistant Vice Chancellor for Remote Engineering Education at Texas A&M University, and has been involved in academic technology for over 20 years. Prior to Texas A&M, he was the Associate Vice Provost for Digital Learning at UT San Antonio, where he lead teams focused on enhancing the learner and teaching experiences across all spaces. His focus on the user experience and data, has led to development and adoption of design strategies that measure learning and teaching efficacies across his service in various institutions of higher education.

A geophysicist by academic training, he began to design multimedia applications for teaching and learning in the late 1990’s, developing his first online course in 1996. Since then, he has helped a few hundred faculty from varied disciplines develop hybrid and online courses. He has also taught traditional, hybrid and online courses ranging in size from 28 to 250. He is also co-developer of a Digital Academy which was a finalist for the Innovation Award by the Professional and Organizational Development Network and an Innovation Award winner. He was recently named as the Center for Digital Education’s Top 30 Technologists, Transformers and Trailblazers for 2016.

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Diverse Engineering Faculty’s Perceptions and Practice of Active Learning at a Southwestern University


The complex challenges facing society require innovative engineers who are equipped with a wide set of knowledge and skills, which they integrate to create innovative solutions and processes. While a traditional lecture course may be an effective approach for efficiently disseminating content to a large number of students, these one-way exchanges from professor to students typically promote passive and superficial learning and can have a negative impact on motivation, confidence, and enthusiasm. In contrast, active learning strategies promote student engagement and thinking about what they are learning and how it integrates into their existing knowledge base. Numerous studies have demonstrated the efficacy and positive benefits of active learning strategies in development of both core knowledge and skills. The approach also has positive impacts on student affect characteristics, such as confidence and motivation. However, the efficacy is intrinsically tied to the instructor’s ability to use those strategies well, which is the focus of this study.

At a southwestern public research university, new active learning spaces were opened in a redesigned engineering building in fall 2018. To aid faculty in assimilating active learning pedagogies into their existing courses in these redesigned spaces, a college-wide initiative was developed on active learning, including a series of workshop and community of scholars in Spring and Summer 2018. The initiative aims to prepare and support faculty as they transition to teaching in a modern learning environment much different than that they are accustomed. The initiative brings an aspect of faculty development incorporating curriculum and instruction, as well as an opportunity to research both the training offered and the influence of the new spaces on the motivation and teaching of the faculty.

The engineering program at the university has slightly over 600 faculty members involved in delivering engineering courses. Within this faculty, 36.6% are professors, 19.6% are associate professors, 13.7% are assistant professors, and 29.9% are in non-tenure seeking positions. Of the engineering faculty, 17.4% are women, 25.6% Asian, 1.4% Black, 7.4% Hispanic, 1 American Indian, and 8 unknowns. Approximately, 15% or more of these faculty members have over 5 years of industry experiences.

This study attempted to explore engineering faculty’s current knowledge, perceptions and practice of active learning for diagnostic purposes. Prior to attending the faculty development program, engineering faculty invited for the program was surveyed to probe their perceptions and practice of active learning. While around 130 faculty members were invited, 84 of them (65%) responded to an online survey. Considering the diversity in engineering faculty at the university, this study attempted to explore any differences in their perceptions and use of active learning strategies by gender, tenure status (non-tenure, tenure track, and tenured), years of teaching, and culture (undergraduate education in the USA vs. non-USA). Currently content analyses on the open-ended questions are ongoing.

Watson, K., & Yoon, S. Y., & Shields, S. M., & Barroso, L., & Palsole, S. (2019, June), Diverse Engineering Faculty’s Perceptions and Practice of Active Learning at a Southwestern University Abstract Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32670

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