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GIFTS: Preparing Teaching Assistants to Encourage an Entrepreneurial Mindset in First-Year Engineering

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2021 First-Year Engineering Experience



Publication Date

August 9, 2021

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August 9, 2021

End Date

August 21, 2021

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Meagan Eleanor Ita The Ohio State University

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Meagan is a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Engineering Education Department at The Ohio State University. She graduated with her Bachelor's (2013) and Master's (2014) in Biomedical Engineering from The Ohio State University and completed her Ph.D. in Bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania in 2020. Meagan conducted research on the biomechanics and physiology of chronic pain for her doctorate degree and has experience teaching undergraduate first-year engineering and mid-level biomechanics courses. Meagan is currently working with the KEEN partnership at OSU, integrating her interests in STEM education, entrepreneurial partnerships, and community engagement. Meagan values authenticity, connection with others, & integrity and prioritizes these values as an educator, bioengineer, and scientist.

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Laine Rumreich The Ohio State University

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Laine Rumreich is a graduate student studying Computer Science and Engineering at The Ohio State University. She completed her undergraduate research thesis in the Department of Engineering Education and is now a graduate research associate in the department. Her primary research interests are in the areas of coding education and engineering entrepreneurship.

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In this GIFTS paper, we present a training module designed for teaching assistants (TAs) in a first-year engineering program that aims to provide exposure to, and encourage reflection upon, the foundational concepts of an entrepreneurial mindset (EM). The entrepreneurial mindset refers to an evidence-based collection of mental habits that augment engineering skillsets to amplify the societal impact and value creation of engineering solutions. In our first-year engineering program, we encourage an EM that consists of three key attributes referred to as the “3Cs” and developed by the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network: demonstrating constant curiosity about an ever-changing world, forming connections across diverse sources to gain insights, and creating value across societal, economical, and environmental systems. Although our department and others have evaluated how EM-directed curricular changes can best be implemented to maximize student learning outcomes and competency of the 3Cs, little is known about how to best train instructors and TAs in EM. Furthermore, assessment techniques for the evaluation of EM mastery for members of the instructional team are only just beginning to be elucidated. Accordingly, we piloted an online training module that aimed to prepare TAs to facilitate mastery of the 3Cs with design project student teams in our honors first-year engineering program. Our training module included a document describing EM and the 3Cs, an instructional video for each of the 3Cs, and a short survey that included three open-ended questions. Questions prompted TAs to (1) craft question(s) they might use to spark curiosity with their student groups, (2) brainstorm source(s) apart from the required curriculum that students can use for design inspiration, and (3) provide an experience from their own undergraduate experience they perceive as EM-aligned. Preliminary data from the first two TA survey questions show a diverse set of curiosity questions and inspirational information sources that we expect to compile as a resource for all TAs to use in their instruction of student groups. Additionally, the third survey question provides insight into what courses, assignments, and projects TAs believe are heavily EM-aligned and, in doing so, provides a list of curricular components for which instructors may focus EM formal learning and/or research initiatives. Moreover, we found that TAs used the open-ended survey questions to explicitly reflect on their own EM-aligned experiences. In this way, we expect that our training module not only better equips TAs to integrate the 3Cs into their teaching, but also encourages student TAs to exercise their own 3Cs mental habits. Our full GIFTS will provide a summary of all survey results with specific examples of TA responses.

Ita, M. E., & Rumreich, L. (2021, August), GIFTS: Preparing Teaching Assistants to Encourage an Entrepreneurial Mindset in First-Year Engineering Paper presented at 2021 First-Year Engineering Experience, Virtual .

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