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Learning Outcomes from an Art-Engineering Co-curricular Course

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Integrating Art, Humanities, and Engineering

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.853.1 - 23.853.10



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Paper Authors


John J. Marshall PhD University of Michigan

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John Marshall’s research focuses on: design methods; tangible interaction; and cross-disciplinary collaboration. He has a collaborative approach to designing, making and teaching that recognizes the boundaries of the problem being addressed, not the artificial boundaries of traditionally-defined disciplinary practice. Marshall is an Assistant Professor at the Stamps School of Art & Design and an Assistant Professor of Architecture at the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan. In 1998, he co-founded rootoftwo - a hybrid art and design studio that makes experimental objects and spaces that seek to challenge perceptions, expectations and established behavior.

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Learning Outcomes from an Art-Engineering Co-curricular CourseGibbons et al (1994) [1] questioned the adequacy of traditional disciplinary structures withinuniversities in the context of broader social, technological and economic contexts. Since the Fallof 2005, the University of X has dedicated $2.5 million dollars to support team-teaching effortsand interdisciplinary degree programs through the Multidisciplinary Learning and TeamTeaching (MLTT) Initiative. The MLTT Initiative-funded course 'SmartSurfaces' (Fall 2009-11)[2] offered a collaborative, project-based learning experience in which twenty-four students (eachcourse offering) formed teams to build physical systems and structural surfaces that have thecapability to adapt to information and environmental conditions. Each team was required todesign, build, program and test a ‘smartsurface’ that made use of solar energy harvesting (2009),biomimicry (2010), an ‘off-grid’ context (2011); microcontroller programming; parametricmodeling; and digital fabrication. Where possible, learning made use of practical problemsolving through experimentation. All participants had to negotiate and manage differencesbetween the cultures of the university units (Art & Design, Architecture and Materials Scienceand Engineering).The University of X Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT) conducted surveysof students who had enrolled in all MLTT-funded courses. These survey results show greatervalue from 'SmartSurfaces' students than in other courses. The purpose of this submission is topresent how the design and implementation of the course is related to these outcomes. Sourcesfor this presentation include student interviews, surveys and observations of the professors.Many of the instructional techniques used will be illustrated with examples of theirimplementation in the context of the course.From the outset of this course, the researcher had taken care to maintain research standards,document student reflection and shoot video of each class session – thus compiling a rich troveof data for future analysis. In addition to the CRLT data, two other studies are being undertakento identify patterns in this data related to two existing conceptual frameworks. The first of theseis the Integration of Learning (IOL) framework developed by Dr. James P. Barber (The Collegeof William and Mary). Additional information about this framework is available in Dr. Barber’sdissertation [3] and in an article recently published in the American Educational ResearchJournal (AERJ). [4] The second framework is a new approach developed by Dr. Shannon Chance(Hampton University). This new framework combines well-established student developmenttheories. In the second study, Dr. Chance is using ‘SmartSurfaces‘ data to test the validity of arubric she had developed previously for assessing student development. In the process, she isalso identifying patterns in the data regarding how and what students have learned through theirinvolvement in the ‘SmartSurfaces‘ course.This paper will provide: (1) a brief description of the course; (2) presentation of the CRLTfindings; (3) discussion of analysis underway using Dr. Barber’s integration of learningframework; and (4) discussion of analysis underway using Dr. Chance’s framework for assessingepistemological development.References Gibbons, M., Limoges, C., Nowotny, H., Schwartzman, S., Scott, P. & Trow. M. The new[1]production of knowledge. The dynamics of science and research in contemporary societies.(Sage Publications Ltd., London, 1994). Redacted, Shtein, M., & Daubmann, K., (2011). SmartSurfaces: a Multidisciplinary, Hands-[2]on, Think-tank. (Washington, DC: ACSA Press. Proceedings of the Association of CollegiateSchools of Architecture 2011 Teachers Seminar: Performative Practices: Architecture andEngineering in the Twenty-First Century, 2011) 34-42. Barber, J. P. (2009). Integration of learning: Meaning making for undergraduates through[3]connection, application, and synthesis. (Doctoral dissertation). University of X.[4]Barber, J. P. (2012). Integration of learning: A grounded theory analysis of college students’learning. American Educational Research Journal.

Marshall, J. J. (2013, June), Learning Outcomes from an Art-Engineering Co-curricular Course Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19867

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