June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
26.915.1 - 26.915.10
Improving engineering student preparedness, persistence, and diversity through conative understandingEngineering teaching strategies that engage students are desperately needed to recruit, retain, andprepare students in STEM fields to address challenges facing the 21st Century. Thus, this paperexplores the integration of conative awareness into the engineering curriculum which will enableengineering programs to improve students’ preparedness and subsequently retention in STEMfields. As we better prepare and engage students, we will retain a more diverse set of students tobe successful engineers.In engineering it is cognitive skills that are the most highly valued and consistently rewarded.However, the mind consists of three separate domains: cognitive, affective and conative. Thecognitive domain houses learned information, or a person’s knowledge and skills. The affectivedomain houses emotional responses to this learned information and determines such things aspersonality, values, and motivation. The conative domain houses striving instincts and describeshow people most naturally approach challenging situations.Engineering typically loses 40% of students after the first year; while the percentage of womenin undergraduate engineering programs rarely tops 20% (with the exception of bioengineering,estimated from enrollment and degrees award from NSF NCES). According to the President’sCouncil of Advisors on STEM, in order to increase diversity and retention of women andminorities in STEM fields, educators must better engage students in their education and give allstudents the tools to excel. Conative awareness focuses on students’ strengths as opposed to theirweaknesses or their differences. This awareness creates an environment of student centeredlearning. By understanding innate problem solving skills, students can perform more effectivelyby working in harmony with their talents rather than against them, and this information can beespecially impactful in retention of women and underrepresented students. Introducing theconcept of conation at the freshman level is intended to assist students with forming strongrelationships, building confidence, and enhancing understanding of individual innate strengths toenable them to persist and succeed in engineering programs.This study analyzes the effectiveness of teaching conative awareness to students in first yearcommunity college engineering classes as well as first year engineering classes at a largeresearch university. The intent of integrating conation into freshman classes is to improvestudents’ understanding of their individual behavioral strengths and thereby increase retentionand persistence in engineering. Specifically, this paper describes a method for integratingconation into freshman engineering classes. The method includes an online conative assessment,in-class activities created to illustrate conative behavior related to engineering tasks, practicingconative awareness through class projects, and reflective writing to encourage students tocritically think about conative awareness for future classes, activities, and careers. Theeffectiveness of the methods described herein were evaluated through the use of surveys andinterviews with faculty and students. Finally, this paper discusses challenges, successes, andoutcomes realized from integrating conation into freshman classes.
Adams, E. A., & Dancz, C. L. A., & Landis, A. E. (2015, June), Improving Engineering Student Preparedness, Persistence, and Diversity Through Conative Understanding Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24252
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