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Engineering Curriculum Rooted in Active Learning: Does It Promote Engagement and Persistence for Women?

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division Technical Session 7

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

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Paper Authors


Leanne Kallemeyn Loyola University Chicago

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Leanne Kallemeyn, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in Research Methodologies at Loyola University Chicago. She teaches graduate-level courses in program evaluation, qualitative research methods, and mixed methods. She has been the PI on seven major evaluation projects that ranged from one to five years in length. Her scholarship focuses on practitioners’ data use and evaluation capacity building within non-profits through coaching. She received a Bachelors in Psychology from Calvin College, and a PhD in Educational Psychology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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Gail Baura Loyola University Chicago

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Dr. Gail Baura is a Professor and Director of Engineering Science at Loyola University Chicago. While creating the curriculum for this new program, she embedded multi-semester projects to increase student engagement and performance. Previously, she was a Professor of Medical Devices at Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences, which is one of the Claremont Colleges. She received her BS Electrical Engineering degree from Loyola Marymount University, her MS Electrical Engineering and MS Biomedical Engineering degrees from Drexel University, and her PhD Bioengineering degree from the University of Washington. Between her graduate degrees, she worked as a loop transmission systems engineer at AT&T Bell Laboratories. She then spent 13 years in the medical device industry conducting medical device research and managing research and product development at several companies. In her last industry position, Dr. Baura was Vice President, Research and Chief Scientist at CardioDynamics. She is a Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE).

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Francisca Fils-Aime Loyola University Chicago

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Francisca Fils-Aime is currently a doctoral student at Loyola University Chicago in the Research Methodology program.

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Jana Grabarek

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Pete Livas Jr Loyola University Chicago

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Active, problem-based learning has been increasingly used in engineering education. In contrast to passive lecture-oriented traditional education, active learning focuses on practical experience, interactive engagement, and students’ motivation. Group projects to design and build devices and ethical case studies sensitize students to experiences outside of the classroom. They also increase critical thinking and engagement. A curriculum that is rooted in social justice may attract more females and minorities. Active learning pedagogy and attention to social responsibility in engineering courses has been linked to retaining female students and students of color. Research has demonstrated that short-term outcomes of an active learning pedagogy include increasing student engagement in class, improving students’ examination results than traditional courses, and ensuring more students pass the course. Prior research has demonstrated that long-term outcomes shift the focus from mathematics to the understanding of phenomena and conceptual thinking, increase engagement and motivation to learn, and help students gain self-confidence and a sense of accomplishment. The purpose of this longitudinal study is to understand the relationship between an institution’s engineering program rooted in active learning and undergraduate student persistence, particularly for women. To do this, we also explored how students’ engagement and other factors predicted their persistence.

At the beginning of their freshmen and sophomore years, students completed an adapted version of the Longitudinal Assessment of Engineering Self-Efficacy (LAESE). They also completed portions of the Student Responses to Instructional Practices Instrument and the Engineering Professional Responsibilities Assessment Tool. For specialized aspects of the curriculum, we also collected class assignment rubrics, and pre-post assessments. Based on preliminary analyses, students have reported higher levels of engagement, social responsibility, and persistence than what students at other institutions report. These patterns are consistent for both men and women.

Kallemeyn, L., & Baura, G., & Fils-Aime, F., & Grabarek, J., & Livas, P. (2021, July), Engineering Curriculum Rooted in Active Learning: Does It Promote Engagement and Persistence for Women? Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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