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Evolution Through Evaluation: The Development And Delivery Of A Multicultural Awareness Workshop For Teaching Assistants In Engineering

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.476.1 - 6.476.9



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Paper Authors

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Yogesh Potdar

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Patricia Spencer

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Kathryn Hollar

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session ERM

Evolution through Evaluation: The Development & Delivery of a Multicultural Awareness Workshop for Teaching Assistants in Engineering Yogesh K. Potdar, Patricia B. Spencer/Kathryn Hollar Cornell University/Rowan University


This paper will summarize the process for developing and delivering a workshop on Multicultural Awareness for the TA Development Program in the College of Engineering at Cornell University. This workshop, delivered first in 1992, has been a key component of the TA Training program because of the pertinent issues around diversity in the classroom. Supporting gender and racial diversity, in particular, serves a broader college-wide discussion about enhancing the educational climate for all students. The challenge of developing a quality workshop that is grounded in practicality and is appealing to a highly analytical audience (engineers), while accomplishing the philosophical objectives of the program, fuels a constant evolution.

We accomplish flexibility of workshop content, while maintaining the same underlying principles. The workshop constantly evolves in response to four main sources of feedback/assessment: • participants (new TAs), • co-facilitators (TA Fellows) after they have delivered the workshop • TA Fellows throughout the summer “train-the-trainer” experience • the program administrators1 The on-going involvement of college and university-level administration and both new and returning TA Fellows has ensured that ideas from the latest articles on the issues of multiculturalism in engineering education and corporate America are brought to the table for discussion and inclusion.

Through multi-layered assessment, we have developed a highly adaptable and interactive workshop. The co-facilitators can choose from a variety of activities and tailor the workshop to best suit their particular presentation style. Workshop content can include data on the current demographics at Cornell, exercises to investigate personal biases, discussion material for creating and maintaining an equitable classroom, and supporting students in crisis. We motivate the need for diversity in the classroom based on the changing demographics of the United States, the ever- growing demand from industry for engineers, and the dwindling pipeline of majority students. The workshop ends on a “this could happen to you” note, with diversity case studies that have occurred at Cornell within the past three-four years. In summary, the key to a successful workshop experience has been curriculum flexibility, co-facilitated delivery and concurrent levels of assessment and review.

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Potdar, Y., & Spencer, P., & Hollar, K. (2001, June), Evolution Through Evaluation: The Development And Delivery Of A Multicultural Awareness Workshop For Teaching Assistants In Engineering Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9244

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