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Learner Capstone Panels for Immersing Undergraduates in Mechanisms of Engineering Research

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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

Insights for Teaching ECE Courses - Session I

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Soheil Salehi University of Central Florida Orcid 16x16

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Soheil Salehi is a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Central Florida (UCF) where he received the M.S. degree in Computer Engineering in 2016. He is a Graduate Research Assistant supporting an NSF-sponsored Communications, Circuits, and Sensing-Systems project and has been a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UCF from 2014 to 2018. His educational interests span laboratory-based instruction, technology-enabled learning, and feedback-driven formative assessment. He is the founding president of the Student Laureates of STEM Teaching and Learning (SLSTL) Registered Student Organization, which plays an active role in the advancement of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning by providing financial and academic support to graduate and undergraduate students in STEM disciplines. He has credentialed with the Preparing Tomorrow's Faculty Workshop covering evidence-based and emerging teaching methods. He was the recipient of an ACM Design Automation Conference (DAC) dissertation forum grant and the sole recipient of the UCF Excellence by a Graduate Teaching Assistant at the university-level in 2016.

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Ramtin Zand University of Central Florida

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Ramtin Zand received B.Sc. degree in Electrical Engineering in 2010 from IKIU, Iran. He received his M.Sc. degree in Digital Electronics from Sharif University of Technology, Tehran, Iran, in 2012. He is a Ph.D. Candidate in Computer Engineering at the University of Central Florida (UCF), Orlando, FL. His research interests include Machine Learning and Neuromorphic Computing, Emerging Nanoscale Electronics including Spin-based Devices, Reconfigurable and Adaptive Computer Architectures, and Low-Power and Reliability-Aware VLSI Circuits.

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Ronald F. DeMara P.E. University of Central Florida Orcid 16x16

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Ronald F. DeMara is a Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Central Florida (UCF), where he has been a full-time faculty member since 1993. His educational research interests focus on classroom instructional technologies and the digitization of STEM assessments. He is Principal Investigator of the NSF Workshop on Digitally-Mediated Team Learning and the organizer of faculty development workshops on Assessment Digitization Innovation and also on Virtualized Active Learning. He has completed over 275 technical and educational publications, 47 funded projects as PI/Co-I, and 22 Ph.D. graduates. He serves as the founding Director of the Evaluation and Proficiency Center (EPC), is an iSTEM Fellow, and the Digital Learning Faculty Fellow at UCF. He received the UCF university-level Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award twice, Teaching Initiative Program Award four times, Research Initiative Award twice, Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award, Advisor of the Year, Distinguished Research Lecturer, Marchioli Collective Impact Award, the Effective Practice Award from Online Learning Consortium, and the Joseph M. Biedenbach Outstanding Engineering Educator Award from IEEE.

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A novel and transportable approach to integrating research methods, professional conference activities, and technical current topics has been innovated at a large state university, integrated within a required undergraduate Computer Engineering course, and refined across five consecutive semesters. The Learner Capstone Panel (LCP) approach extends traditional laboratory projects towards a student-driven culminating technical panelist activity offering multiple modes for student participation. The written component of LCP consists of creating of a capstone technical report using recent technologies that extend the topics and content covered in the course. The verbal component of LCP uses those student-authored reports to conduct a conference-style activity as a peer learning forum of student panelists convened during the last day of class.

LCP motivates learners to become immersed in mechanisms of creating technical reports in IEEE format that connect the content of the course to the state-of-the-art advances in the field. Students then participate in double-blind technical review processes to select panelists who will answer questions asked by other students. To facilitate technical topic debate, the panel is conducted using real-time collaboration tools and professional protocols. Thus, undergraduate students become immersed in mechanisms associated with technical research while becoming more aware of options that they could pursue during graduate studies in topics of their interest that also refresh content within the course. Students increase preparation for their future career in academia or industry, including the development of soft skills and increased confidence to articulate their technical ideas and knowledge. This approach can be further extended to all STEM fields to enhance learner engagement in research-based tasks and increase learning outcomes relating to creative and professional activities. Our results based on an IRB-approved survey indicate that 81% of the participants strongly agreed or agreed that attending the panel discussions increased their understanding of research topics related to the course materials. Furthermore, 94% of the survey responders strongly agreed or agreed that working on a capstone report helped them better understand the process of creating a research paper, while 75% of the responders strongly agreed or agreed that the LCP method motivated them to explore beyond the course materials. Overall, the LCP approach can offer an effective mechanism to advances students’ professional development via simulated participation in a professional technical conference panel environment, which is typically unattainable for undergraduate students.

Salehi, S., & Zand, R., & DeMara, R. F. (2019, June), Learner Capstone Panels for Immersing Undergraduates in Mechanisms of Engineering Research Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33048

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