New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Engineering programs across the US are engaged in efforts to increase the diversity of their student populations. Despite these efforts, students from groups underrepresented in engineering are still less likely to persist, relative to their peers. One approach taken is adding design earlier in programs, but faculty sometimes doubt that freshmen and sophomore students have the capacity to design. The students themselves may not realize they already possess skills and beliefs that are valuable for engineering design. We describe an approach to uncover potential and discover the attributes, skills, and beliefs that students hold. Students in the first two courses of a chemical engineering program at a Minority-Serving, Very High Research university (N=136) completed a survey and an assessment of their problem framing ability. We identified the following attributes, skills, and beliefs: women were significantly likelier than men to view design as a co-evolutionary process and first generation college attendees were significantly more likely to agree that design is a learning activity. Regression analysis revealed that students in the introductory course produced more expert problem framing if they viewed constraint as endemic to design. They also produced more expert problem framing if they rated their pre-college knowledge of and confidence in engineering lower. This suggests students need to learn early that constraint is endemic to design. Implications for instruction include communicating to students that the work of engineers involves framing problems and providing opportunities for them to develop these abilities. Identifying the strengths students bring could help faculty build on students’ existing strengths. We should not view limited prior experience and low confidence as a deficit.
Svihla, V., & Datye, A. K., & Gomez, J. R., & Law, V., & Bowers, S. (2016, June), Mapping Assets of Diverse Groups for Chemical Engineering Design Problem Framing Ability Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25675
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