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Integrating Mind, Hand, and Heart: How Students Are Transformed by Hands-On Designing and Making

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Best In DEED

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Eric Reynolds Brubaker Stanford University Orcid 16x16

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Eric is a Ph.D. Candidate in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University and NSF Graduate Research Fellow conducting multidisciplinary research in global product development and experiential learning. He served two years as a teaching assistant in Stanford’s Product Realization Lab. From 2010 to 2016, he worked extensively in Zambia while growing programs and teaching courses at MIT D-Lab. Previously, he was an engineer at Battelle Memorial Institute, researcher at New England Complex Systems Institute, and co-creator of Zimba Water. He holds a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering (2018) from Stanford and B.S. in Mechanical Engineering with honors (2009) from Ohio State University.

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Vikas Rammohan Maturi Stanford University Orcid 16x16

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Vikas Maturi is an undergraduate at Stanford University in the Mechanical Design & Social Impact Analysis degree program. His work focuses on creating products, programs, and evaluations at the intersection of social service and impact measurement. He is a student researcher in the Designing Education Lab under Prof. Sheri Sheppard, where his research centers on equitable and accessible learning in engineering education.

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Barbara A. Karanian Stanford University

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Barbara A. Karanian, Ph.D. , Lecturer, formerly visiting Professor, in the School of Engineering, in the Mechanical Engineering Design Group at Stanford University.
Barbara's research focuses on four areas: 1)grounding a blend of theories from social-cognitive psychology, engineering design, and art to show how cognition affects design; 2) changing the way people understand the emotion behind their work with the intent to do something new; 3) shifting norms of leaders involved in entrepreneurial-minded action; and 4) developing teaching methods with a storytelling focus in engineering and science education.
Founder of the Design Entrepreneuring Studio: Barbara helps teams generate creative environments. Companies that she has worked with renew their commitment to innovation. She also helps students answer these questions when she teaches some of these methods to engineering, design, business, medicine, and law students. Her courses use active storytelling and self-reflective observation as one form to help student and industry leaders traverse across the iterative stages of a project- from the early, inspirational stages to prototyping and then to delivery.

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Sheri Sheppard Stanford University

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Sheri D. Sheppard, Ph.D., P.E., is professor of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. Besides teaching both undergraduate and graduate design and education related classes at Stanford University, she conducts research on engineering education and work-practices, and applied finite element analysis. From 1999-2008 she served as a Senior Scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, leading the Foundation’s engineering study (as reported in Educating Engineers: Designing for the Future of the Field). In addition, in 2011 Dr. Sheppard was named as co-PI of a national NSF innovation center (Epicenter), and leads an NSF program at Stanford on summer research experiences for high school teachers. Her industry experiences includes engineering positions at Detroit's "Big Three:" Ford Motor Company, General Motors Corporation, and Chrysler Corporation.

At Stanford she has served a chair of the faculty senate, and recently served as Associate Vice Provost for Graduate Education.

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David Beach Stanford University

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Hands-on education — the integration of mind and hands — is often believed to transform the way that students think and learn. How and how much are students changed by hands-on education, and by what mechanisms do such transformations occur? This exploratory study considers 75 students in a 10-week engineering design and manufacturing course where, in many cases, students design and build a physical product for the first time. Students participate in labs through which they gain hands-on experience in milling, turning, forming, welding, and sand casting, among other manufacturing processes. Additionally, through several iterations of an individual project, each student builds a functional, high-fidelity, well- finished prototype of their own design. Drawing from Dewey alongside Lave and Wenger’s theories of learning through experience and participation in communities of practice, we observe how students engage their mind, hands, and heart in a makerspace environment and the subsequent changes that they experience. We hypothesize that greater integration of students’ mind, hands, and heart is associated with increased engineering task self-efficacy, innovation self-efficacy, engineering identity, and closeness of connection to a maker community. To examine these hypotheses, pre- and post-course surveys were administered in addition to written reflections throughout the course. Pre-post comparisons are performed on quantitative constructs and qualitative reflections contextualize the interpretation. Findings suggest that participation in this hands-on learning course is associated with large positive transformations in innovation self-efficacy, engineering task self-efficacy, and perceived connection between the self and maker community, and that these gains occur in all examined subgroups. On average, students report large increases in perceived connection between their “mind and hands” and “heart and hands,” with underrepresented minority (URM) women and non-URM men experiencing the largest increases in mind-hand-heart connection. Future research may examine how different groups of students, e.g. URM women, approach designing and making in academic makerspaces and how they come to perceive exceptional integration of mind, hand, and heart. Our findings also point to the underexplored and potentially substantial role of emotion in makerspace learning environments. These findings have implications for our understanding and support of designing and making in engineering education.

Brubaker, E. R., & Maturi, V. R., & Karanian, B. A., & Sheppard, S., & Beach, D. (2019, June), Integrating Mind, Hand, and Heart: How Students Are Transformed by Hands-On Designing and Making Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32988

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