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Promoting Learning And An Engineering Community Of Practice

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Research On Student Teams

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1039.1 - 10.1039.14

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Paper Authors

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Edward Evans

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Sandra Spickard Prettyman

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Helen Qammar

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Using a Vertically Integrated Team Design Project to Promote Learning and an Engineering Community of Practice

Sandra Spickard Prettyman, Helen Qammar and Edward Evans Department of Foundations and Leadership/Department of Chemical Engineering University of Akron, Akron OH 44325

Recent curriculum reforms in engineering education have focused on implementing the scholarship on pedagogy into the engineering classroom experience. For example, the paradigm shifts toward learner-centered versus teacher-centered delivery modes have been well established in many departments. In addition, department level curriculum reforms have begun to design integration of concepts and skills throughout the curriculum in response to ideas from constructivist theory on how students learn. In this paper we draw on theoretical models from cultural psychology and anthropology about the importance of designing an educational experience for engineering students that helps develop communities of practice and promotes student self-development1-2. Baxter Magolda argues that there are links between the epistemological, interpersonal, and intrapersonal aspects of student development that must be recognized if we are to move students forward in their educational and intellectual journey and development. Following the framework of Baxter Magolda,3 we show how a freshman through senior vertically integrated team design project (VITDP) enhances learners’ development on these multiple levels and moves them toward self-authorship.

In addition, we use the work of Lave and Wegner2 to examine how VITDP helps students move from novices to experts in an engineering community of practice. Situated learning examines how cultural knowledge is constructed and maintained within a group over time, and specifically how people move from novices to experts within the group. It posits that learning takes place within the processes of social interaction and represents a process of becoming, in this case an engineer. Thus, there is a focus on the relationship between identity within the community and cultural knowledge necessary to maintain and expand that identity. Tonso4 argues that: "Because engineering has persisted through time as an endeavor with historical, cultural, and social meanings, it resembles the communities of practice where Lave and Wenger grounded situated learning theory".

Kegan5 argues there is often a mismatch between what schools and society expect of people, and the abilities they currently have to meet those expectations. What is needed is a developmental bridge to help them cross over, a bridge that acknowledges who they are now and fosters the skills needed to move forward. The VITDP is specifically designed to act as such a bridge for students, and is based upon three developmental principles: 1) knowledge is socially constructed, 2) the individual’s developmental stage is key in knowledge construction, and 3) this construction occurs through shared expertise. Data from VITDP show that students are able to move from absolute and transitional knowing toward contextual knowing and self-authorship1,3,6 along an identity trajectory that moves them from novice positions toward expert positions2. This shift is facilitated by the structure of vertical integration that takes into account and holds students accountable to the three previously listed developmental principles. It is also facilitated

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Evans, E., & Spickard Prettyman, S., & Qammar, H. (2005, June), Promoting Learning And An Engineering Community Of Practice Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon.

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: © 2005 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