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Improving Student Attainment of ABET Outcomes Using Model-Eliciting Activities (MEAs)

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Open-Ended Problems and Student Learning

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.836.1 - 22.836.13



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Paper Authors


Karen M. Bursic University of Pittsburgh

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Karen M. Bursic is an Assistant Professor and the Undergraduate Program Director for Industrial Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. She received her B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Industrial Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh. Prior to joining the department she worked as a Senior Consultant for Ernst and Young and as an Industrial Engineer for General Motors Corporation. She teaches undergraduate courses in engineering economics, engineering management, and probability and statistics in Industrial Engineering as well as engineering computing in the freshman engineering program. Dr. Bursic has done research and published work in the areas of Engineering and Project Management and Engineering Education. She is a member of IIE and ASEE and is a registered Professional Engineer in the state of Pennsylvania.

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Larry J. Shuman University of Pittsburgh Orcid 16x16

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Larry J. Shuman is Senior Associate Dean for Academics and Professor of Industrial Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. His research focuses on improving the engineering educational
experience with an emphasis on assessment of design and problem solving, and the study of the ethical behavior of engineers and engineering managers. A former senior editor of the Journal of Engineering Education, Dr. Shuman is the founding editor of Advances in Engineering Education. He has published widely in the engineering education literature, and is co-author of
Engineering Ethics: Balancing Cost, Schedule and Risk - Lessons Learned from the Space Shuttle (Cambridge University Press). He received his Ph.D. from The Johns Hopkins University in
Operations Research and the BSEE from the University of Cincinnati. He is an ASEE Fellow.

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Mary Besterfield-Sacre University of Pittsburgh

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Mary Besterfield-Sacre is an Associate Professor and Fulton C. Noss Faculty Fellow in Department of Industrial Engineering, a Center Associate for the Learning Research and Development Center, and the Director for the Engineering Education Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh. Her principal research is in engineering education assessment, which has been funded by the NSF, Department of Education, Sloan Foundation, Engineering Information Foundation, and the NCIIA. Mary’s current research focuses on three distinct but highly correlated areas – innovative product design, entrepreneurship, and modeling. She has served as an associate editor for the JEE and is currently associate editor for the AEE Journal.

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Improving Student Attainment of ABET Outcomes Using Model- Eliciting Activities (MEAs)Model-Eliciting Activities (MEAs) are a proven educational methodology for presentingcomplex, realistic, open-ended problems to students. However, the methodology can also beused for classroom assessment. MEAs were originally developed by mathematics educationresearchers but have recently seen increased use in engineering curricula. These posed, realisticscenarios require the student team to provide a generalizable model as a solution. While researchhas demonstrated that they improve student problem solving and modeling skills as well asincrease their understanding of course concepts, we have identified additional benefits of wellconstructed MEAs in the engineering classroom. In particular, they can be used to improvestudents’ knowledge and understanding of important professional skills including professionaland ethical responsibility, understanding the impact of engineering solutions in a global andsocietal context, communication, as well as teamwork. Several experiments were conducted inindustrial engineering courses in which students in sections using MEAs were compared toparallel sections in which MEAs were not used. A series of assessments were performedincluding pre and post concept tests and student course evaluations. Analysis was also doneusing student reflections recorded after completing MEAs. Students’ in sections of the coursesthat used MEAs rated their knowledge and understanding of these professional skills higher thanstudents in sections that did not use the MEAs. We suggest that engineering should seriouslyconsider using MEAs as a tool to improve both student learning and the attainment of a numberof ABET outcomes as well as a means for assessing that attainment. This should proveespecially helpful in those areas where previous assessments may have shown weaknesses orinadequate attainment.

Bursic, K. M., & Shuman, L. J., & Besterfield-Sacre, M. (2011, June), Improving Student Attainment of ABET Outcomes Using Model-Eliciting Activities (MEAs) Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18117

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