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Promoting Engineering Research Early – A Case Study of Research Question Formulation in a First-year Engineering Course

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Conference

2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Information Literacy in First-year Courses and Co-curricular Experiences

Tagged Division

Engineering Libraries

Page Count

15

DOI

10.18260/1-2--35103

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/35103

Download Count

161

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Paper Authors

biography

Joanne Dera New Jersey Institute of Technology

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Joanne Dera has a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Iowa State University and an MLIS in Library and Information Science from Rutgers University. She is currently the Science and Engineering Librarian at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and liaison to the departments of Chemistry and Environmental Science, Chemical and Materials Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Physics. Having worked as a Professional Engineer in the Power Industry, she understands what industry expects of new engineers and uses her practical experience in both engineering and higher education to improve the research skills of engineering students before they embark on their professional careers.

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biography

Ashish D. Borgaonkar New Jersey Institute of Technology

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Dr. Ashish Borgaonkar works as Asst. Professor of Engineering Education at the New Jersey Institute of Technology's Newark College of Engineering located in Newark, New Jersey. He has developed and taught several engineering courses primarily in first-year engineering, civil and environmental engineering, and general engineering. He has won multiple awards for excellence in instruction. He also has worked on several research projects, programs, and initiatives to help students bridge the gap between high school and college as well as preparing students for the rigors of mathematics. His research interests include engineering education, integration of novel technologies into engineering classroom, excellence in instruction, water, and wastewater treatment, civil engineering infrastructure, and transportation engineering.

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Davida Scharf New Jersey Institute of Technology Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-7100-926X

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Davida Scharf has a B.A. from Barnard College in Art and Architectural History, an MLS from Columbia University, and a PhD from the Rutgers University School of Communication and Information in the area of educational assessment and information literacy. She is currently Director of Reference and Instruction at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, NJ.

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Jaskirat Sodhi New Jersey Institute of Technology

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Dr. Jaskirat Sodhi is interested in first-year engineering curriculum design and recruitment, retention and success of engineering students. He is the coordinator of ENGR101, an application-oriented course for engineering students placed in pre-calculus courses. He has also developed and co-teaches the Fundamentals of Engineering Design course that includes a wide spectra of activities to teach general engineering students the basics of engineering design using a hands-on approach which is also engaging and fun. He is an Institute for Teaching Excellence Fellow and the recipient of NJIT's 2018 Saul K. Fenster Innovation in Engineering Education Award.

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Abstract

A majority of incoming engineering students have little experience in engineering research and are reluctant to spend the time needed to find good quality information. Their strong reliance on Google results in generally poor quality sources and mediocre assignment submissions at best. In Fall 2019, while working with beginning engineering students, we realized we had an opportunity to help them become better questioners and thus better researchers by focusing on engineering research skills. One comprehensive two-part assignment, designed to introduce them to technology innovation and research requires students to read and summarize one article in part I and find additional articles of similar quality where the author disagrees or expands their thinking about potential problems in part II. They must focus on potential problems or issues in contrast to the benefits of technology and suggest possible future research directions. Most students summarized their reading but had difficulty articulating outstanding questions for future study. Thus our goal was to sharpen students’ ability to identify the research question in a study or report, as well as ask better questions themselves. This semester, we enhanced the assignment to address this particular weakness. Librarians who partnered with the instructor on this activity were familiar with the Question Formulation Technique (QFT) introduced by the Right Question Institute. They brought this mini-curriculum to the classroom in a Fundamentals of Engineering class for freshmen at our mid-sized technology university. Students heard from the librarian and also had access to a specially designed web-portal with information on QFT and additional resources related to conducting quality research in general, and their engineering research assignment in particular. Student satisfaction with the session and the portal was high. Their research reports, due in the coming weeks, will be scored on various research skills as in the previous terms, with the addition of a rubric to measure students’ ability to formulate questions. Student submissions and performance from this semester will be compared with student data in the past 3-4 semesters when the QFT technique was not utilized. Preliminary results on the impact on their work will be analyzed at the end of the Fall 2019 semester and updates will be made, if necessary, for the Spring 2020 semester.

Dera, J., & Borgaonkar, A. D., & Scharf, D., & Sodhi, J. (2020, June), Promoting Engineering Research Early – A Case Study of Research Question Formulation in a First-year Engineering Course Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35103

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