June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
New Engineering Educators
22.1116.1 - 22.1116.13
Occasioning the Emergence of Knowledge and Promoting Motivation for All Students: Applying Instructional Principles to Engineering SituationsAbstractIn this paper, we introduce two sets of instructional principles that can be valuable for newengineering educators, and provide illustrations of how these principles have been embodied inour teaching activities. Our emphasis is not on demonstrating the success of the activities wedescribe, but rather on using them to illustrate the principles. A key message to be taken fromour analysis is that the link to these principles lies not only in the starting activity, but also inhow the instructional activity is facilitated over time. In the discussion, we note the relevance ofthese principles to the current educational climate with its focus on helping larger groups andmore diverse groups of students to be successful.IntroductionAs new engineering educators work to become seasoned, effective, and even inspirationaleducators, searching for instructional principles (i.e., a prescription or an assertion about how toteach) that are situated in research and aligned with the goals one has for one’s own teaching canbe challenging. Furthermore, imagining how the principles can be instantiated in teachingsituations can be particularly challenging when the examples provided do not map well to one’sspecific teaching situation. In such cases, it can be beneficial to simply have more examplesavailable. In this paper, we introduce two sets of instructional principles that we have foundparticularly useful for guiding our own teaching and provide illustrations of how these principleshave been embodied in our teaching activities.The first set of instructional principles emerges from the field of motivational theory and isdocumented in the book, Diversity and Motivation: Culturally Responsive Teaching byWlodkowski and Ginsberg1. Based on a synthesis of the extensive body of research onmotivation and an interest specifically in ensuring that all students have the opportunity to feelmotivated to learn, Wlodkowski and Ginsberg identify four instructional principles, each withtwo associated sub-principles: (1) establish inclusion (though respect and connectedness), (2)develop positive attitudes toward the material (through autonomy and relevance), (3) enhancemeaning-making processes (through challenge and engagement), and (4) engender students’sense of their growing competence (through authenticity of assessment and effectiveness).The second set of instructional principles emerges from the field of complexity science and isdocumented in the book Complexity and Education by Davis and Sumara2. Based on a synthesisof ideas related to complexity theory, with specific attention to creating the conditions thatpromote the emergence of knowledge, Davis and Sumara identify the following three principles:(1) embrace the tension between diversity and redundancy, (2) provide enabling constraints bybalancing coherence and randomness, and (3) promote trans-level learning through neighborinteractions and decentralized control.In this paper, we provide further detail on these two sets of instructional principles anddemonstrate how we have instantiated them in cases situated in two different teaching contexts:(1) an undergraduate course involving technology and design and (2) a graduate course devotedto helping students learn to critically assess research in their field. We anticipate that byintroducing new engineering educators to these two powerful sets of instructional principles andillustrating how they can be mapped to educational practice, we will empower these educators totry out new ideas in their own teaching.ApproachWe first introduce the two teaching cases that we will be using. The first case, the squaresactivity, was a class exercise used at the beginning of the term with a class of just under 30undergraduate students. The second case, the journal landscape project, was one of threeprojects assigned in a graduate class of just under 30 students. These two cases arecomplementary in that they vary in the unit of teaching (class activity versus multi-week project)and in terms of student population (undergraduate versus graduate).We did not select these cases because of any specific claim to their novelty. In fact, the squaresactivity is a common design exercise. Rather, we selected these cases to illustrate the principles.Moreover, since our emphasis is not on demonstrating the success of these cases, but rather onusing them to illustrate the principles, we focus below on explaining how the activities align withthe principles rather presenting data to prove the activities worked.Case 1: Undergraduate class exerciseIn the squares activity, students were invited to engage in a highly constrained design task—specifically, to place four solid black squares against a white field in order to represent theconcept of increase. The exercise was an initial assignment in a junior- level course entitled“Communication Design and Rationale.” In general, the goals of the course were to helpstudents gain skills in generating designs, using technology to generate their designs, andproviding a rationale for their designs.In terms of the sequencing over time, students were told of the assignment during one classsession and asked to prepare and submit one or more solutions electronically before the nextclass session. The instructor (the second author) presented the students’ solutions as examples ina lecture during the subsequent class session. During that lecture, students were directed toattend to the variety of solutions created by the class, to ask questions about solutions thatinterested them, and to discuss how specific solutions might be relevant to specific designsituations. With the conversation as a backdrop, students were then introduced to the notion of adesign rationale and asked to draft a sample design rationale as a way to introduce them to thisconcept.Case 2: Graduate multi-week projectThe journal landscape project was a multi-week project in a graduate level course entitledEmpirical Traditions in Human Centered Design and Engineering. Per the syllabus, the task wasas follows: “Working in teams of two or three, you and your teammate(s) will characterize oneyear of articles in a major journal in our field in terms of five to seven dimensions of yourchoosing and then prepare a summary of what this characterization reveals.” This project wasthe initial project of a course whose overall goal was to help incoming graduate students developtheir capacity to function as a critical consumer of empirical research. The project, specifically,was designed to get students to interact with journals and journal articles, think about knowledgework broadly, and discover information of interest.In terms of sequencing over time, the process involved the following:1. Students were introduced to the assignment on the first day of class and invited to participate in a brainstorming session about journals they might explore and dimensions they might use in characterizing the journal’s articles (e.g., the number and nationality of the authors, features of the overall structure of the article such as whether there is an explicit approach or implication section, the number and age of the citations).2. Based on this information, students were then asked to form teams around specific journals and prepare a first milestone report (a one-page document) containing their journal name and a list of candidate dimensions. These milestone reports were then used in class to discuss various methodological issues associated with specific possible dimensions (e.g., how to operationalize dimensions of interest, how much time a dimension might take to analyze, the benefits of “double coding”).3. Based on this information, the students were then asked to prepare a second milestone report (a one-page document) containing a revised set of dimensions and an approach for coding these dimensions. Again, the milestone reports were used, in class, to discuss the project.4. Two days before the project was due, students were required to (a) give a “minute-madness” presentation to the class on their results and (b) bring a draft of their report to class for peer review.5. The group then submitted the final report two days later, after making revisions based on the peer review. In addition, individual group members submitted a written reflection on their learning through the project process.Description, Observation and ReflectionIn the next two sections, we further describe these two cases. Specifically, we describe each casein terms of the instructional principles we introduced earlier, starting with the principles relatedto motivation. Further, our descriptions are augmented by our own observations and reflectionson these instructional activities as they transpired in our classes (during the winter 2011academic term for case 1 and during the fall 2010 term for case 1).Promoting Motivation for All StudentsMotivation—generally speaking, the level of will, want, or desire that someone has towardtaking some action—has long been considered an important issue in teaching and learning. Astudent’s level of motivation relative to class-related activities can affect time on task, ability topersist in the face of difficult tasks, and other factors that are positively linked to learningoutcomes. Specific links between motivation and learning have been explored within the realmsof self determination theory, social cognitive theory, and achievement goal theory3. Forexample, self-determination theory suggests that motivation is in relationship to the human needsfor relatedness (security and belonging), competence (important for promoting self-worth), andautonomy (control).Instructional PrinciplesThis work is organized around the framework presented by Wlodkowski and Ginsberg1. Thisframework is of interest because it represents a synthesis of much research concerningmotivation, is oriented toward higher education, specifically provides educators with teachingpractices, emphasizes intrinsic motivation toward educational content, and takes into accountboth cognitive and social issues related to motivation. Even further, the framework builds onresearch into culturally aware teaching practices and thus is synergistic with engineeringeducation’s concerns related to diversity. The framework is motivated by a belief that allstudents have a right to experience intrinsic motivation to learn, and educators can engage inactivities that have the potential to contribute to such a goal. The key contribution of theirframework is to bring all of these elements together.Wlodkowski and Ginsberg’s framework is organized around four broad teaching principles:establishing inclusion, developing attitude, establishing meaning and demonstrating competence.In order to help educators work toward each of these principles, Wlodkowski and Ginsbergidentify conditions (they use the term criteria) that contribute to the achievement of the principle:educators can establish an inclusive environment through respect and connectedness, helpstudents in that environment develop a positive attitude toward material through relevance andautonomy, help students establish meaning of the material through engagement and challenge,and help students demonstrate competence relative to the material through authenticity andeffectiveness. In their book, the authors further unpack each principle by proposing “norms” thatcontribute to the achievement of the principle, identifying example teaching “procedures,”explaining the theoretical basis of each of these ideas, and unpacking the link between theseideas and issues of multi-cultural teaching. They also clearly acknowledge the overlappingnature of these elements.Establish Inclusion: Respect and Connectedness. The key idea of this principle is that thoseparticipants in a group who feel included are more likely to be committed to the practices of thegroup, in this case, learning practices. In particular, Wlodkowski and Ginsberg identify respectand connectedness as two conditions that contribute to inclusiveness. In terms of respect,Wlodkowski and Ginsberg state, “We understand respect in the learning environment to meanthat the integrity of each person is valued in ways that welcome the worth and expression ofone’s true self without fear of threat or blame” (p. 62). We interpret this to mean that respectinvolves taking care to appreciate learners for who they are and what they bring to a learningsituation (e.g., appreciating their prior experiences) and taking care to not blame students forthings they bring to the learning situation (e.g., not blaming students for lack of prior knowledgeor for not being excited about the material). In terms of connectedness, Wlodkowski andGinsberg emphasize issues of caring and responsiveness.Develop Attitude: Relevance and Autonomy. The key idea of this principle is that having apositive attitude, orientation, or interest toward the material will contribute to intrinsicmotivation to learn the material. Relevance and autonomy are then offered as two conditionsthat contribute to students having a positive attitude toward material. While understanding therelevance of the material may seem an obvious dimension of interest, what makes relevanceinteresting are the various dimensions along which something can be understood to be relevant:relevance to the profession may not be the same as relevance to the student; relevance to anupcoming project may not be the same as relevance to projects far in the future. Consistent withtheir emphasis on intrinsic motivation and inclusiveness, Wlodkowski and Ginsberg areparticularly interested in helping the students themselves see material as relevant, and theyidentify autonomy as a mechanism that can help students to see relevance. Letting studentsmake choices in the context of learning, particularly choices related to the material, can helpstudents create situations where the material is personally relevant.Enhance Meaning: Challenge and Engagement. The ideas related to this principle are associatedwith creating conditions to help students engage in the types of actual activity that result inlearning. Wlodkowski and Ginsberg explain the relationship between the terms as they intendthem in this way: “Challenge can be understood as the learning opportunity itself whileengagement can be understood as the actions students take.” In discussing these ideas,Wlodkowski and Ginsberg draw on the notion of the type of flow experiences that result when an“optimum” level of challenge (challenging enough but not overly challenging) is coupled with apositive disposition toward an activity. Providing learning tasks at the optimal level of difficultyis also considered an important component of motivating students.Engender Competence: Authenticity and Effectiveness. Wlodkowski and Ginsberg round outtheir framework by focusing on aspects of assessment that can further contribute to students’motivation to learn a particular topic. In particular, their emphasis is on how assessment canhelp learners see themselves as becoming effective in something that is of value to them. Theyfurther discuss this in terms of authenticity and effectiveness. Authentic assessment is somethingthat has received a great deal of attention in the assessment literature. From their perspective,authentic assessment involves acknowledging the situations in which learning takes place,allowing learners to use what they naturally produce in those situations as evidence of theirlearning, and providing learners with multiple ways to demonstrate their understanding. In asense, the idea is to create the best possible conditions for learners to demonstrate their growingunderstanding of the material. That, then, can be coupled with an emphasis on effectiveness,which they describe as, “the learners’ awareness of their command or accomplishment ofsomething they find to be important in the process of learning or as an outcome of theirlearning.”So how do the two cases introduced above embody the principles of inclusion, attitude, meaning,and competence? We discuss each case below.Link to Case 1: Class exerciseIn terms of inclusion, specifically respect and connectedness, the squares activity makes itpossible for students who are entering with disparate levels of design experience to succeed andfeel part of the class. Because the exercise both challenges experienced students and can beachieved by novice students, the exercise can be said to create a situation of respect. In otherwords, students are situated so that they do not feel blame for having too little or too muchdesign experience. Further, because the students’ solutions in toto are subsequently used todiscuss class concepts, conditions of connectedness are created. Moreover, because differentsolutions help to illustrate different points, every solution can be valued, further creatingconditions of connectedness. It is interesting to think that the relative anonymity of this firstassignment (student names did not appear with the solutions on the slides) creates conversationand lays a path for activities to be more personal in the future. It is also interesting to note thatwhile solutions were presented in an anonymous way, particularly clever solutions (e.g.,solutions that did not seem at first to have been created according to the starting requirements)often elicited the class to ask who had created the solution and to have that person comment onhis/her solution. Through this activity, students got to know each other and create connectednessconditions.In terms of attitude, the specifications of the exercise speak to both autonomy and relevance,although in different ways. The potential for autonomy is essentially the same as with anydesign exercise—students are free to propose their solution and also to propose the basis for theirsolution (i.e., a quick solution, a solution that is possibly unlike one anyone else will produce). Interms of relevance, the task benefits from face validity—it is clearly a design activity in thecontext of a class on communication design. In addition, the lecture that is subsequently basedon their solutions shows the relevance of their solutions to class activity, the potential relevanceof their solutions to solving this problem, and even the relevance of contributing one solution interms of generating ideas. Moreover, as the exercise proceeds, the students had a chance to seethe relevance of the exercise toward class learning goals (e.g., learn about vector graphics) andclass activities (e.g., learn to write a design rationale).Turning to meaning, the specifications of the exercise speak to both challenge and engagement.As mentioned above, the exercise makes it possible for a novice designer to create a solution andthe exercise provides an interesting design space for a more experienced designer (e.g., theexperienced designer can try to find not just any solution, but a clever solution that no one elsewill consider). Part of this is the severe constraint put on the design space. Consider that evenadding color to the squares that the students are asked to manipulate would add complexity to thedesign space. This significant constraining of the design space, coupled with the potential forcomplexity even for experienced designers, has potential to lead to a flow experience—anexperience where the focus is thoroughly on the task at hand. The number of “wacky” andinteresting solutions provided evidence that such a state was achieved.So how does the exercise relate to competence, a concept that for Wlodkowski and Ginsberg isintrinsically tied to assessment, when the assessment in this activity was minimal (i.e., as long asstudents submitted a solution in the requisite technical format, they got credit)? In terms ofauthenticity, getting credit for producing a solution is actually a form of authenticity. In terms ofeffectiveness, the potential value was not in the formal efforts to support students’ understandingof their own effectiveness but in the informal opportunities that students had to see themselvesrelative to their peers and relative to goals of the class. One thing that could have supported thecompetence principle even further, and would have been relatively straightforward, would havebeen a discussion with students about what they “took away” from this exercise (this came upduring conversation, but a targeted discussion question on this item did not occur). Such aconversation would have helped to externalize students’ personal insights so that other studentscould benefit from them.Link to Case 2: Graduate multi-week projectIn terms of inclusion, the design of the journal landscape project makes it possible for studentsto feel respected in terms of their interests, potential lack of interest, prior knowledge, and levelof expertise (as with the squares exercise, the journal landscape is do-able for a novice and auseful activity for a more advanced student). Opportunities for connectedness stem from themultiple points at which students are asked to share their ideas and to learn from each others’ideas.In terms of attitude, autonomy is an obvious dimension of this project. Most significantly, thestudents get to choose the journal they will address—in our significantly interdisciplinarydepartment, this selection opportunity means that students can explore journals related to topicsas varied as online help, children playing games, humanitarian relief, and informatics. Inaddition, the students get to choose the dimensions they will use to study the journal, theapproach used to operationalize the dimensions, and their teammates. Further, while each choiceis made available to them, they receive support in thinking through each choice. They alsoreceive support in understanding the relevance of the task—a somewhat larger issue. In fact,part of the exercise is to help them (at least some of them) see journals and the content ofjournals as relevant to their professional activity. This issue of relevance, then, is discussed inclass (i.e., such as by discussing the notion of a knowledge society and the importance of beingable to critically evaluate new knowledge in a knowledge society). The issue of relevance is alsobrought out by celebrating instances where individual students find relevant information throughthis project. It is also interesting to note that the project, as defined, stays relevant since it isalways focused on analyzing the most recent year of articles in a journal.Turning to meaning, the specifications of the exercise speak to both challenge and engagement.In particular, the project is designed around things that students are asked to do, and thensufficient facilitation is provided so that students experience a reasonable, but not overwhelming,level of challenge. Concerning engagement, the idea is for students to start exploring the journaland be able to see patterns. The milestones are designed to help to manage the project over timeand in terms of steps. In fact, the milestones have been chosen based on the types of difficultiesthat students encountered. The milestones also relate to challenge in that they provide studentswith the opportunity to ask questions (and, in relation to the issue of respect, we endeavor to takeall questions seriously). Also, recently, in an effort to keep the students focused on this task ofexploring and analyzing the journal, we developed and offered to the students a template forpreparing their report.As mentioned above, competence, for Wlodkowski and Ginsberg, is intrinsically tied toassessment. In this project, the assessment is based on two documents: the final report of theteam’s analysis of the journal and individually written reflections in which students are asked totalk about what they learned from the project experience. The project report is linked to theoverall issue of authenticitiy. In particular, the report is explained as something that they couldshare with peers, employers, and/or teammates interested in the journal that they analyzed.Further, as mentioned above, because the exercise is always current (they always analyze themost recent year), the students can know that their results are always new. In terms ofeffectiveness, the students clearly have the potential to look at their project report and thinkabout what they have gained, and also to experience success at engaging with research. Inaddition, the required reflection is positioned as a place where they more explicitly articulatewhat they learned. As an educator, this information is quite valuable—this is where studentsshare their insights such as becoming aware of journals, gaining confidence in being able to readjournal articles, and gaining skills at asking more probing questions.Occasioning the Emergence of KnowledgeComplexity theory, as applied to education, is concerned with the notion of a system that learns2.Complex systems are characterized by self organization, bottom up emergence, short-rangerelationships, nested structure, ambiguous boundaries, and the absence of equilibrium.Complexity theory is of interest in this age of rapid change because complex systems are capableof doing the unexpected. In terms of complexity, a basic tenet is that learning will emerge out ofthe interactions of many subcomponents or agents whose actions are constrained by similar,dynamic contexts, and that this emergence occurs not as a result of one agent in the system, butas a higher order phenomenon that occurs as agents interact with one another4. Complexitytheory has the potential to help address challenges in education in general and in engineeringeducation specifically4-6.Instructional PrinciplesDavis and Sumara have proposed three principles useful for configuring complex learningsystems. These principles, described below, have to do with the knowledge possessed by theagents interacting in the system and the types of interactions of these agents.Specialization—Living the tension of diversity and redundancy. This principle is concerned withthe amount of overlap and variation in the knowledge brought to a situation by the various agents(i.e., students) in the system. Redundancy in knowledge (e.g., redundancy in language, inexperiences, in rules about how things work) is what permits the agents to be able to interact.Diversity of knowledge (i.e., when agents know things that other agents do not know) is whatpermits the agents through their interaction to respond to novel situations and to createinnovative responses.Enabling constraints—Balancing coherence and randomness. This principle is concerned withhow agents interact and, in particular, what they are collectively doing. Coherence implies someunifying activity that the agents collectively address. This unifying activity provides theconstraints alluded to in the principle. Yet, the activity also needs to allow for randomness in itsdirection in order to support the emergence of unexpected knowledge.Trans-level learning—Enabling neighbor interactions through decentralized control. Thisprinciple is concerned with how agents and ideas interact in a complex system. According toDavis and Sumara, for a knowledge-producing complex system, it is primarily the interacting ofideas that will lead to new knowledge. However, they emphasize that ideas interact frequentlythrough the interactions of the agents with the ideas (hence the emphasis on trans-level learning).The notion of neighbor interactions alludes to individual agents and their ideas spending a greatdeal of time interacting with each other, without going through a central channel. The notion ofdecentralized control represents the idea that the outcome of the learning is not forced toward apredetermined goal; but, rather, the direction of the learning emerges through the interactions.Link to Case 1: Class exerciseConsidering the class exercise (the squares activity) from the perspective of the specializationprinciple, we can make two observations. First, at a basic level, the configuration of most anyclass involves a situation of redundancy and diversity. Students in a class presumably sharethings like certain amounts of prerequisite knowledge and some level of interest in the class.Regardless of such commonalities, the students are also certainly diverse is a variety of ways(e.g., different life experiences, different personalities). These aspects of redundancy anddiversity set the stage for the variety of solutions that come out of the exercise (discussed below).It is also possible to reflect on this principle in light of the conversation among the students uponseeing the lecture featuring their work. For example, in cases where students were asked tocomment on their designs, they often elaborated on themselves. This necessarily resulted inmembers of the class having more knowledge about the ways in which the students were alike(redundancy) and different (diversity) from each other. Similarly, when the students were askedto think of a context in which a particular solution might be appropriate, they also tended toreveal information about themselves. For example, this happened when a student interested inmobile devices pointed to a particular solution as appropriate for such devices. Through theseconversations, members of the class gained insight into the interests, personalities, skills, andexperiences of the students across the class. This can be seen as creating potential for futureactivities.The link to the enabling constraints principle is centrally through the design task itself. Thenature of the task provided students with a great deal of coherence—everyone was engaged inthe same activity. At the same time, the task, which sounded deceptively simple, was capable ofresulting in a wide variety of solutions as the students demonstrated (hence the randomness).The link to the trans-level learning principle has to do with the way in which the students’design solutions were leveraged in the class. Recall that the solutions were integral to apresentation used in a subsequent lecture and discussion. In other words, students saw theirsolutions alongside other solutions and also had the opportunity to interact with each other inreference to their solutions—issues of neighbor interactions. Because the students’ solutionswere all in response to the same set of constraints, they were positioned to better appreciate thedifferent solutions. They were also positioned to use the different solutions to start to begin tocreate knowledge. At the same time, what they chose to notice was open, hence thedecentralized control. For example, in discussing the solutions, the students began noticing hownegative space was being used and ultimately starting to theorize negative space. Also, byattending to so many different examples, the students started paying attention to the direction inwhich the graphic was to be read (e.g., top to bottom, left to right, right to left). This observationled to conversations about cultural conventions and how they can or should be embodied indesigns. Interestingly, this conversation also led to some people introducing themselves asbilingual or multilingual and sharing the other languages that they speak, an issue related back tothe specialization principle.Link to Case 2: Graduate multi-week projectConsidering the graduate multi-week project from the perspective of the specialization principle,we can make observations in the same two categories as above. First, because the participants inthe project were all involved in the same class, the situation involved a certain amount ofdiversity and redundancy. In this class, students, for example, could be assumed to share aninterest in their graduate studies and certain background knowledge. At the same time, thestudents in this particular class were already known to be diverse relative to their disciplinarybackground, the extent of their prior work experience, and their initial beliefs concerning therelevance of the course. As above, these aspects of redundancy and diversity set the stage for thevariety of solutions that came out of the exercise (discussed below). Further, given the extent ofsharing during the project activities, students necessarily learned a great deal about each other—setting the stage for future activity.In this case, there are several links to the enabling constraints principle. First, the initialspecification of the project involves two elements of redundancy: having the students choose aspecific journal and having the students focus on five to seven dimensions as the basis for theiranalysis of the journal. Clearly, then, the randomness stems from students having differentchoices of journals and dimensions. Later in the project, the students were also given a templatefor writing up their report. The template creates coherence among the analyses, making itpossible to better appreciate some of the randomness that ensues. Another link to the enablingconstraint principle involves how reflection on learning was supported. In terms of coherence,each student was asked to write a short statement about what he/she had learned through theproject. Given the different backgrounds of the students and their different choices in theirproject, the nature of the actual learning of the students has an element of randomness to it.Finally, the connections to the trans-level learning principle have a great deal to do with howthis activity was facilitated over time. In particular, the project process was set up to promoteneighbor interactions. Recall that, in terms of process, students were sharing intermediateproject elements (e.g., their journal choice, their dimension choices, their ideas for how tooperationalize the dimensions, their almost finished work) on a regular basis. At each point,students were exposed to the range of ideas available at that point in the process, and they hadthe opportunity to think about patterns and to make meaning. For example, in learning moreabout a variety of journals during the sharing of their almost finished work, the students startingto talk in quite sophisticated ways about the publishing process for academic research and thenature of the discourse community for a particular journal. While these topics were among thetopics to be covered in the course, the significance here is that these topics came out of thestudents’ conversation.Discussion and ConclusionsIn this paper, we introduced two sets of instructional principles that we found particularly usefulin guiding our own teaching, and we provided illustrations of how these principles have beenembodied in our teaching activities. It is interesting to note that these principles, which focus onissues of motivation and the emergence of knowledge, complement the types of principles thatstem from a more cognitive focus (such as principles that focus on determining students’ priorknowledge in order to identify and correct naïve conceptions or misconceptions). In terms of theactivities, while a reader could focus on trying the specific instructional activities we describe inthis paper, we note that that was not our main point. In fact, we could have easily focused onother classroom exercises or multi-week projects that we have used in our teaching.In general, a key message to be taken from our analysis is that the link to these principles lies notonly in the starting activity, but also in how the instructional activity is facilitated over time. Assuggested by the above accounts, the nature of how a project is facilitated is related to issuessuch as making something reasonably challenging (from the motivation framework), creatingconditions of coherence that permit useful randomness (from the complexity framework), andcreating opportunities for neighbor interactions (from the complexity framework). While aninsight that “it matters how we facilitate an activity” is certainly not news, these observationsprovide additional support for an educator trying to think through how to facilitate aninstructional activity over time. These observations about the role of facilitation also provide acounter to a potential concern that providing such facilitation involves “dumbing down” thelearning experience.Turning to the frameworks themselves, we can make observations about the individualframeworks as well as their overlap. Concerning the motivation framework, an appeal of thisframework is clearly the potential for all students to experience intrinsic motivation to learn.One thing we find interesting about this framework is the role of assessment—this is an area ripefor discussion. Concerning the complexity framework, it is worth noting that while instructionaligned with these principles is exciting, such alignment also requires a certain flexibility andadaptability on the part of the instructor, and it also may create interesting challenges forassessment. Finally, in terms of alignment between the two frameworks, it is useful to point outthat the inclusion principle (via respect and connectedness) and the specialization principle (viaredundancy and variability) have a great deal of overlap. It is also interesting to point out thatlocal control is not unrelated to autonomy. These and other overlaps suggest that it might beinteresting to pursue a hybrid framework.We readily acknowledge a limitation of this work—that we have not taken the next step ofproviding evidence of the actual effects on student motivation or the comprehensive nature ofknowledge that emerged in these two cases. While this was not a goal of the paper, it wouldcertainly be interesting to have data on this issue. This remains for future work, as does thecreation of examples where the principles described above are applied to other types ofinstruction (e.g., co-curricular activities such as coop, integrative activities such as portfolioconstruction).Finally, we can note that these two sets of principles are quite relevant in our modern times. Forexample, given the national and international focus on diversity and helping under-representedpopulations succeed, the motivation-related principles that are focused on helping all studentsexperience intrinsic motivation to learn are certainly of interest. Also, in lean times wheneducators are pressured to do more with less, the complexity-related principles that involveleveraging the power of large groups may provide a source of inspiration about new ways toproceed. Given this, we encourage readers to turn to the original sources of these principles tofurther explore the principles themselves and their application to teaching.AcknowledgmentsThis work has been supported by the National Science Foundation through grant REC-0835836and the Ray J. Bowen Professorship for Innovation in Engineering Education (held by Dr.Jennifer Turns). The authors wish to thank Kate Mobrand, Ashley Babcock, and Brook Sattlerand the anonymous reviewers for their contributions to this paper.”Bibliography1. Wlodkowski, R. and Ginsberg, M. (1995). Diversity and motivation: Culturally responsive teaching, Jossey Bass: San Francisco.2. Davis, B. and Sumara, D. (2006). Complexity and education. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates: Mahweh, NJ.3. Urdan, T., and E. Schoenfelder (2006). “Classroom effects on student motivation: Goal structures, social relationship, and competence beliefs,” Journal of School Psychology, 44, pp. 331-3494. de Haan, J. (2006). How emergence arises. Ecological complexity, 3(4), pp. 293-301.5. Kellam, N. N., Walther, J., & Babcock, A. (2009). Complex systems: What are they and why should we care? In Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education Conference, San Antonio6. Kellam, N. N., & Gattie, D. K. (2008). Developing a systems understanding of education through ecological concepts. Paper presented at the Complexity Science and Educational Research Conference, Athens, GA, February.7. Gattie, D. K., & Kellam, N. N. (2008). Engineering education as a complex system. Paper presented at the Complexity Science and Educational Research, Athens, GA, February.
Turns, J. A. (2011, June), Occasioning the Emergence of Knowledge and Promoting Motivation for All Students: Applying Instructional Principles to Engineering Situations Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18914
ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2011 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015