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Engineering Problem Typology-based Reflection and Communication of Undergraduate Engineering Experiences: Professional Engineers’ Evaluation of Students’ Mock Interview Responses

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Undergraduate Students' Professional Skills and Reflection

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count

20

DOI

10.18260/1-2--37071

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/37071

Download Count

191

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Paper Authors

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Andrew Olewnik University at Buffalo

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Andrew Olewnik is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at the University at Buffalo. His research includes undergraduate engineering education with focus on engineering design process and methods, ill-structured problem solving, problem typology, and experiential and informal learning environments in the professional formation of engineers. He is interested in the development of tools, methods, and strategies that aid in engineering problem definition, and problem solving discourse among students, faculty, and practitioners. Dr. Olewnik is also the Director of Experiential Learning for the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

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Hala Alfadhli University at Buffalo

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Undergraduate computer engineering research assistant.

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Lucas Wickham University at Buffalo

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I am an undergraduate research assistant at SUNY University at Buffalo, where I study Industrial and Systems Engineering. My research interests are in energy, education, and data analytics.

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Ashley Cummings University at Buffalo

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Undergraduate Industrial Engineering student at the University at Buffalo.

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Randy Yerrick Fresno State University

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Randy Yerrick is Dean of the Kremen School for Education and Human Development at CSU Fresno. He has also served as Professor of Science Education at SUNY Buffalo where he Associate Dean and Science Education Professor for the Graduate School of Education. Dr. Yerrick maintains an active research agenda focusing on two central questions: 1) How do scientific norms of discourse get enacted in classrooms and 2) To what extend can historical barriers to STEM learning be traversed for underrepresented students through expert teaching practices? For his efforts in examining science for the under-served, Dr. Yerrick has received numerous research and teaching awards including the Journal of Research in Science Teaching Outstanding Research Paper Award, Journal of Engineering Education “Wickenden Best Paper Award” (Honorable Mention), the Most Outstanding College Science Teacher Award from the Science Teacher Association of New York State, the Teaching Innovation Award from The State University of New York, and The STAR Award for Outstanding Mentoring. He has held fellowships in several organizations such as the National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure, the San Diego State Center for Teaching and Learning, and has on the Board of Directors for the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, served as their Director of Communications, and served for nearly 20 years as an Apple Distinguished Educator. Professor Yerrick is also a founding Member of the Science Educators for Equity, Diversity and Social Justice.

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Abstract

Introduction: An important and recognized challenge for undergraduate programs is to provide engineering students with experiences that provide insight on what it means to be an engineer in practice. However, for such experiences to be truly meaningful to professional formation, students must also be capable of internalizing and effectively communicating insights from those experiences. Unfortunately, student engagement with technical and professional competencies often occur in disconnected contexts, leaving students underprepared for discussing their experiences. Development of technical competencies occurs in the context of the classroom while consideration of professional competencies is only attended to in preparation for career fairs and interviews.

Focus: In this study, we explored the role of reflection on students’ abilities to communicate their engineering experiences in professional terms. Students participated in formative reflection about specific professional competencies scaffolded around engineering problem typology (PT). These reflection sessions occurred as students worked on a co-curricular group project team. The question that frames this research is: What effect, if any, does professional competency reflection scaffolded around problem typology have on students’ ability to synthesize and communicate their experiences?

Methods: Toward answering these questions we conducted mock interviews pre-/post-PT based professional competency reflection with undergraduate engineering students. The mock interviews comprised five behavior-based interviews questions. Prior to the mock interviews, students were instructed to complete a summative reflection intended to help them recall and synthesize their experience in professionally relevant terms. For the pre, students were asked to consider a previous team-based experience. For the post, students referenced their recent co-curricular experience. Interview responses were transcribed and professional engineers evaluated three of the interview questions for 12 pre/post interviews. Evaluations were blind; evaluators did not know which students they were evaluating nor whether they were reviewing pre or post responses.

Results: Analysis showed that evaluation scores of the post MI responses are higher than the pre MI responses. We found that the differences were statistically significant for the overall score, question 1 (project context and results), and question 2 (teamwork question) but not for question 3 (oral/written communication). Through qualitative analysis of evaluator open responses and interview transcripts we identify specific features of student responses that changed from pre to post mock interviews.

Implications: The findings from this study demonstrate that there is significant value in getting students to consider both technical and professional competencies concurrently as they work through project-based experiences in academic settings. Importantly, this study shows that a little reflection can go a long way in improving student outcomes. This supports an argument that professional competency reflection as a regular feature in the engineering curriculum can help students to better prepare for communicating their relevant experiences and may help students to better appreciate the professional relevance of class-based experiences.

Olewnik, A., & Alfadhli, H., & Wickham, L., & Cummings, A., & Yerrick, R. (2021, July), Engineering Problem Typology-based Reflection and Communication of Undergraduate Engineering Experiences: Professional Engineers’ Evaluation of Students’ Mock Interview Responses Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--37071

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