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Reflection in Engineering Education: Advancing Conversations

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

NSF Grantees: Student Learning 3

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NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Jennifer A. Turns University of Washington

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Jennifer Turns is a Professor in the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering at the University of Washington. She is interested in all aspects of engineering education, including how to support engineering students in reflecting on experience, how to help engineering educators make effective teaching decisions, and the application of ideas from complexity science to the challenges of engineering education.

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Kenya Z. Mejia University of Washington

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Kenya Z. Mejia is a second year PhD student at the University of Washington in the Human Centered Design and Engineering program. Her work focuses on diversity and inclusion in engineering education focusing on engineering design education.

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Cynthia J. Atman University of Washington

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Cynthia J. Atman is the founding director of the Center for Engineering Learning & Teaching (CELT), a professor in Human Centered Design & Engineering, and the inaugural holder of the Mitchell T. & Lella Blanche Bowie Endowed Chair at the University of Washington. Dr. Atman holds a Ph.D. in Engineering and Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University. Her research focuses on design expertise, engineering design learning, considering context in engineering design, and the use of reflection to support learning.

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Reflection, as a form of thinking, involves stepping out of a situation and creating knowledge. In an educational context, reflection plays a critical role in professional practice, learning from experience, and successful implementation of teaching methods such as active learning. In supporting student learning, educators can potentially improve and transform student learning through reflection activities. Reflection activities may be a significant tool in efforts to critically improve engineering education, address issues such as diversity and retention, and support learning goals such as innovation and global competencies. In engineering education, however, reflection and reflection activities are understudied and potentially underutilized.

This work, funded by the Engineering Education and Centered directorate, is motivated by a belief in the value of reflection for student learning in engineering, an appreciation of the range of activities that educators can leverage in order to support student reflection, and a sense of the need for resources to help educators make informed decisions in the design of reflection activities for specific situations. Against the backdrop of these ideas, our grant is operating on two levels.

On a foundational level, we are establishing empirically informed conceptual frameworks and associated survey instruments that help educators and resources understand (a) what knowledge gains result when students engage in specific reflection activities and (b) what types of reactions students have when they engage in the activity. This has included interviewing students to gain a deeper appreciation of their varied experiences with reflection, exploring student experiences through a focus on conversations with students about the design of “bad” reflection activities, and through iterative development and evaluation of possible survey formats.

On a practical level, we are exploring ways to distribute our conceptual frameworks alongside relevant information. Our efforts to create a toolkit has included the development and testing of printed forms (such as worksheets and workbooks) and digital forms (such as web-based resources). Recently, we have been exploring interactive forms such as puzzles and dice-based games in order to support the deep thinking that can go into designing reflection activities.

With our work, we aim to advance conversations about potential impact of reflection and conversations about how to leverage reflection in teaching. In the paper and poster, we will focus on both the foundational insights and practical resources that are emerging from this work.

Turns, J. A., & Mejia, K. Z., & Atman, C. J. (2020, June), Reflection in Engineering Education: Advancing Conversations Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35131

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