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Moving an Agenda of Active Learning in Engineering Forward Through a Model of Distributed Expertise

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

ET Pedagogy III

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

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Paper Authors


Sonia Travaglini Stanford University

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Dr. Sonia Travaglini is a Science Engineering Education Fellow in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. Following her PhD in Mechanical Engineering with the University of California, Berkeley, Sonia specialized in the intersection of engineering and active learning, and is an educator passionate about new technologies and collaboration. Along with focusing on creating curricula that focus on active learning experiences, Sonia works to incorporate legitimate engineering tasks into curricula which help students advance towards and prepare for careers in engineering.

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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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Helen L. Chen Stanford University

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Helen L. Chen is a research scientist in the Designing Education Lab in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. She has been involved in several major engineering education initiatives including the NSF-funded Center for the Advancement of Engineering Education, National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter), as well as the Consortium to Promote Reflection in Engineering Education. Helen holds an undergraduate degree in communication from UCLA and a PhD in communication with a minor in psychology from Stanford University. Her current research and scholarship focus on engineering and entrepreneurship education; the pedagogy of portfolios and reflective practice in higher education; and redesigning how learning is recorded and recognized in traditional transcripts and academic credentials.

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This paper aims to answer the question: How does a model of distributed expertise move forward an agenda of active learning in engineering? The question is motivated by the creation of a cohort of Science Engineering Education Fellows (SEEFs) distributed within the School of Engineering, and the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University. SEEFs have both discipline specific and pedagogical expertise, and aim to move forward an agenda of active learning in undergraduate curricula. In this paper we will define the role of SEEFs and the model of distributed expertise, and describe examples of the application of active learning concepts to undergraduate engineering courses, including a mechanical engineering course in experimental problem solving. The common challenges of SEEFs are described, including supporting diverse engineering identities within the communities SEEFs work with, and how to measure and communicate SEEFs impact on students’ learning outcomes and learning experiences. Finally the best practices SEEFs shared will be shared, including supporting long-term impact and culture change needed for a continued community of practice. Overall, by creating a distributed model of expertise, SEEFs form a community of practice focused on integrating active learning into undergraduate engineering courses to support beneficial student learning outcomes.

Travaglini, S., & Sheppard, S., & Chen, H. L. (2020, June), Moving an Agenda of Active Learning in Engineering Forward Through a Model of Distributed Expertise Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34986

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