New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Engineering and Public Policy
Public Policy Analysis for Engineers
Public policy issues are important to every field of engineering. Yet, most engineering students know little about the topic. For most students, however, an entire course focused on the topic is not necessary. For example, a class on engineering design could incorporate a case study on 3D printing policy. To respond to this need, Institution X has developed an online module where engineering students learn about the interrelationship of engineering and public policy, how to conduct neutral policy analysis, and then apply that knowledge in case studies to practice the skills they have learned. The modules takes a flipped classroom/active learning approach by using short videos to educate students, activities to practice the skills taught, and incorporates real-world examples such as hydraulic fracturing, drones, and 3D printing. The online module is designed to satisfy ABET criteria 3c and 3h, which requires that engineering students develop:
• (c) an ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability.” • (h) the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context.
Students are assessed quantitatively before and after participating in the module with ten multiple choice quiz questions to assess what they have learned. and asked to provide information on the utility of the module and ways to improve it.
An ANOVA analysis of pre/post data for within subjects found that the effect on student’s knowledge of public policy analysis was highly significant with post-test higher than pre-test. For the five questions that were more central to understanding of public policy concepts, the effects of the pre/post test were again highly significant. In addition, the effect of the question and interaction among questions were both not significant indicating that the variation in scores cannot be attributed to a particular question being wrong in the pre-test and correct in the post-test.
Students were also asked to provide feedback on the module. Approximately 91% of the students found that the module was engaging/motivating to complete, and 100% believed it supported their learning. Students enjoyed the videos with real life examples the most, and getting to make decisions on public policy. Videos were far preferred over the text material. Students were asked on a 1 to 5 scale if they have a better understanding of the application of policy analysis for an engineering issue with 1 being low and 5 being high. The results indicate that 33% scored the module a 5, 58% a 4, and 8% a 3 with none at a score of 1 or 2.
The on-line module is now freely accessible and available for use. Data will continue to be collected and analyzed.
We will share our experience with using the module in courses over a two-year period, the data that shows its impact on student outcomes, and suggest ways for others to incorporate the module into their courses.
Stine, D. D., & Matthews, D. H., & Hanus, N. (2016, June), Public Policy Analysis for Engineers Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26014
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