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Interactive, Web-based Workshops on Educational Development Proposals and Projects

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

ERM Potpourri

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.828.1 - 25.828.14



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Paper Authors


Russ Pimmel University of Alabama

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Russell Pimmel retired from the NSF after serving as a Program Director in the Division of Undergraduate Education for eight years. Before that, he was a faculty member at the University of Alabama, the University of Missouri, University of North Carolina, and Ohio State University. He also has held industrial positions with Emerson Electric Co., McDonald-Douglas Co., and Battelle Research Labs.

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Roger K. Seals Louisiana State University

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Roger K. Seals is Professor Emeritus of civil and environmental engineering, Louisiana State University, 2005-present. He was Program Director, Division of Undergraduate Education, National Science Foundation, 2003-2005; Undergraduate Programs Director and professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Louisiana State University, 2000-2003; Director and professor, Institute for Recyclable Materials, College of Engineering, Louisiana State University, 1990-2000; Chairman and professor, Department of Civil Engineering Louisiana State University, 1980-1990; and Assistant to Full Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, West Virginia University, 1965-1980.

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Stephanie M. Beard Louisiana State University

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Stephanie Beard is currently an undergraduate at Louisiana State University majoring in computer engineering. She has been working in cooperation with the LSU Engineering Communication Studio with the LSU-NSF interactive, web-based workshops since 2010.

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Interactive, Web-Based Workshops on Educational Development Proposals and Projects Russ Pimmel, Roger Seals, Stephanie Beard and Don MillardThe interactive web-based workshops are based on a model developed and used extensively for face-to-faceworkshops conducted by NSF Program Directors at the ASEE and FIE Conferences and at other venues over the lastdecade. The model is based on a presentation containing a sequence or participant activities structured around athink, pair-share and report (TPSR) framework; where each activity is followed by a feedback session in which thepresenter provides the program director’s views on the topic. In the face-to-face workshop, the presenter serves asthe facilitator for the TPSR segments by organizing the participants into small groups and guiding them as they: firstthink individually about the questions posed; then share their ideas within their small group; and finally, reportseveral selected responses from their group to the larger audience. In transitioning to a web-based format, two majorchanges were needed. First of all, the new approach required a satisfactory Internet conferencing software systemthat would allow two-way communication between the presenter and the various participant sites. This did not posea problem because a number of satisfactory systems are available. However, there were several logistical andtechnical difficulties that had to be overcome including: managing the registration process for the workshops;converting to a VoIP format; minimizing feedback from open microphones and phones at local site; and facilitatingthe reporting process. The second (more major) change involved replacing the presenter’s role as the facilitator inthe TPSR segments and identifying a local facilitator at each participating institutions to organize and lead the TPSRsegments.Topics presented at the workshops have included: proposal writing strategies; introduction to the TUES Program;project evaluation and broader impacts (collectively and individually); and a mock panel review. The workshopshave been presented by NSF Engineering and Computer Science Program Officers in the Division of UndergraduateEducation. The logistics of the workshops were facilitated by a NSF grant to Louisiana State University. Over aperiod of three years, 24 workshop sessions involving 6 different topics were conducted; reaching over 1000participants at more than 50 sites.A voluntary post-workshop survey (with both forced-choice and open-ended questions) was conducted after eachsession to evaluate the effectiveness of the approach. The survey results encompass responses from almost 600participants and facilitators. Since Government regulations make it very difficult to collect survey data in an NSForganized session, there are no comparative data from the earlier face-to-face workshops. However, an analysis ofthe data from the web-based sessions indicated that the participants were satisfied with the format and the workshopobjectives were achieved. For example, in the Project Evaluation Workshop: 61 % Strongly Agreed and 25 %Mildly Agreed with the statement: “I believe that the workshop will enable me to collaborate more effectively withevaluation experts in preparing effective project evaluation plans” and in the Broader Impact Workshop: 62 %Strongly Agreed and 31 % Mildly Agreed with the statement “I believe the Broader Impacts Workshop will improvemy ability to design projects that respond more effectively to NSF’s Broader Impacts criterion.” The data suggestthat the web-based approach can be as effective as the face-to-face format, while also reaching a much wideraudience at a fraction of the cost.

Pimmel, R., & Seals, R. K., & Beard, S. M. (2012, June), Interactive, Web-based Workshops on Educational Development Proposals and Projects Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21585

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