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Pain and Gain: Barriers and Opportunities for Integrating Sociotechnical Thinking into Diverse Engineering Courses

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Conference

2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

Page Count

26

DOI

10.18260/1-2--33151

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/33151

Download Count

230

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Paper Authors

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Stephanie A. Claussen Colorado School of Mines

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Stephanie Claussen’s experience spans both engineering and education research. She obtained her B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2005. Her Ph.D. work at Stanford University focused on optoelectronics, and she continues that work in her position at the Colorado School of Mines, primarily with the involvement of undergraduate researchers. In her role as an Associate Teaching Professor, she is primarily tasked with the education of undergraduate engineers. In her courses, she employs active learning techniques and project-based learning. Her previous education research, also at Stanford, focused on the role of cultural capital in science education. Her current interests include engineering students' development of social responsibility and the impact of students' backgrounds in their formation as engineers.

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Janet Y. Tsai University of Colorado, Boulder Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-2917-0367

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Janet Y. Tsai is a researcher and instructor in the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her research focuses on ways to encourage more students, especially women and those from nontraditional demographic groups, to pursue interests in the field of engineering. Janet assists in recruitment and retention efforts locally, nationally, and internationally, hoping to broaden the image of engineering, science, and technology to include new forms of communication and problem solving for emerging grand challenges. A second vein of Janet's research seeks to identify the social and cultural impacts of technological choices made by engineers in the process of designing and creating new devices and systems. Her work considers the intentional and unintentional consequences of durable structures, products, architectures, and standards in engineering education, to pinpoint areas for transformative change.

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Alyssa Miranda Boll Colorado School of Mines

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Alyssa Miranda Boll is a graduating senior at the Colorado School of Mines and is active in professional organizations including the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the Society of Women Engineers, and Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Her technical studies focus on digital circuits and computer engineering. Her prior research experience includes internships at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the National Center for Atmospheric Research. She is passionate about intersectionality and advocacy of underrepresented groups in STEM and has participated in research of sociotechnical thinking in undergraduate engineering curriculum.

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Jenifer Blacklock Colorado School of Mines

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Dr. Jenifer Blacklock focuses on project-based learning and developing hands-on curriculum to create for strong science and engineering foundations.

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Kathryn Johnson Colorado School of Mines Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-9771-7718

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Kathryn Johnson is an Associate Professor at the Colorado School of Mines in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and is Jointly Appointed at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s National Wind Technology Center. She has researched wind turbine control systems since 2002, with numerous projects related to reducing turbine loads and increasing energy capture. She has applied experiential learning techniques in several wind energy and control systems classes and began engineering education research related to social justice in control systems engineering in fall 2014.

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Abstract

This paper uses narrative analysis to study the barriers and opportunities one research team encountered as we set out to create a class assignment aimed at developing engineering students’ sociotechnical habits of mind. One of the goals of this assignment was for it to be transferable across multiple course contexts, including different engineering disciplines, course instructors, level of students, and course structure. This property distinguishes it from other prior attempts at developing sociotechnical-based assignments in the literature, which have primarily focused on a single course-context.

The process of writing and implementing the assignment followed by the authors’ reflection and analysis required for this paper elucidated many findings that are relevant to other efforts to integrate sociotechnical concepts into core engineering science and design courses. Specifically, we identified barriers to sociotechnical integration which include addressing the diverse needs and objectives of our courses, managing different instructor backgrounds and biases, using appropriate terminology which avoids reinforcing the dualism we are trying to address, selecting appropriate problem statements for our assignment, and settling upon the correct logistics for its implementation. Nevertheless, our work also identified opportunities presented by such sociotechnical integration. These opportunities resulted from the work of multiple instructors wrestling with the assignment together and creating an assignment that we believe fills a need in engineering education.

By collaboratively narrating our journey from conception to implementation for a single cross-contextual sociotechnical assignment and describing the lessons learned, we hope to equip other engineering educators to successfully integrate social and technical learning. This paper is also a contribution to the literature exploring why such integration is so challenging in the first place.

Claussen, S. A., & Tsai, J. Y., & Boll, A. M., & Blacklock, J., & Johnson, K. (2019, June), Pain and Gain: Barriers and Opportunities for Integrating Sociotechnical Thinking into Diverse Engineering Courses Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33151

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: © 2019 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