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Scaling Up or Scale-making? Examining Sociocultural Factors in a New Model for Engineering Mathematics Education

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Conference

2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Imagining and Reimagining Engineering Education as a Dynamic System

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

25

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/30950

Download Count

27

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Paper Authors

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Janet Y. Tsai University of Colorado, Boulder Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/https://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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Kevin O'Connor University of Colorado, Boulder Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-7172-1724

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Kevin O’Connor is assistant professor of Educational Psychology and Learning Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder. His scholarship focuses on human action, communication, and learning as socioculturally organized phenomena. A major strand of his research explores the varied trajectories taken by students as they attempt to enter professional disciplines such as engineering, and focuses on the dilemmas encountered by students as they move through these institutionalized trajectories. He is co-editor of a 2010 National Society for the Study of Education Yearbook, Learning Research as a Human Science. Other work has appeared in Linguistics and Education; Mind, Culture, and Activity; Anthropology & Education Quarterly, the Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science; the Journal of Engineering Education; and the Cambridge Handbook of Engineering Education Research. His teaching interests include developmental psychology; sociocultural theories of communication, learning, and identity; qualitative methods; and discourse analysis.

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Beth A. Myers University of Colorado Boulder

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Beth A. Myers is the Director of Analytics, Assessment and Accreditation at the University of Colorado Boulder. She holds a BA in biochemistry, ME in engineering management and PhD in civil engineering. Her interests are in quantitative and qualitative research and data analysis as related to equity in education. She has been involved in the new pilot Engineering Math course at CU-Boulder since the start.

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Jacquelyn F. Sullivan University of Colorado, Boulder

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Jacquelyn Sullivan is founding co-director of the Engineering Plus degree program in the University of Colorado Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Science. She spearheaded design and launch of the Engineering GoldShirt Program to provide a unique access pathway to engineering for high potential, next tier students not admitted through the standard admissions process; this program is now being adapted at several engineering colleges. Sullivan led the founding of the Precollege division of ASEE in 2004; was awarded NAE’s Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education in 2008, and was conferred as an ASEE Fellow in 2011. She has served on multiple NAE committees, and on the NSF ENG division's Advisory Committee.

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Derek T. Reamon University of Colorado, Boulder

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Derek Reamon is the Co-director of the Integrated Teaching and Learning Program (ITLP) and the Engineering Plus (e+) degree program, and a Teaching Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. As ITLP co-director, he coordinates 19-22 sections of First-year Engineering Projects, a course that has a proven benefit on retention within engineering and is also a nationally recognized model for freshman design courses. The e+ program has created a flexible engineering degree and a pathway to secondary math and science teaching licensure, to increase the numbers of STEM teachers that have strong engineering design backgrounds. Derek is also an award-winning teacher and was most recently awarded the John and Mercedes Peebles Innovation in Education from CU’s College of Engineering and Applied Science. He was also among the first to earn the honorary title Teaching Professor at CU Boulder. Dr. Reamon received his PhD in engineering education from Stanford University in 1999. His dissertation was one the first in the nascent field of engineering education research.

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Kenneth M. Anderson University of Colorado, Boulder Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-9860-7908

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Ken Anderson is a Professor of Computer Science and the Associate Dean for Education for the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Colorado Boulder. He co-directs Project EPIC, an NSF-funded project since 2009 that investigates how members of the public make use of social media during times of mass emergency. Professor Anderson leads the design and implementation of a large-scale data collection and analysis system for that project.

Prof. Anderson was a participant in the first cohort of the NCWIT Pacesetters program, a program designed to recruit more women to the field of computer science and encourage them to pursue their careers in technology.

As part of his Pacesetters efforts, Prof. Anderson led the charge to create a new BA in CS degree at CU that allows students in Arts and Sciences to earn a degree in computer science. This new degree program was first offered in Fall 2013 and had 240 students enroll during its first semester and now has more than 900 majors four years later.

He also organizes and hosts the annual NCWIT Colorado Aspirations in Computing Award for the past seven years. This award recognizes the computing achievements of female high school students in Colorado and encourages them to enroll in computer science at the college level. Over 400 young women in computing have been recognized by this event since 2010.

Prof. Anderson received his Ph.D. in Computer Science in 1997 at the University of California, Irvine. His research interests include hypermedia, the design of reliable large-scale software infrastructure, the design and implementation of data-intensive systems, and the design of web application frameworks.

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Abstract

Researchers have pointed to Wright State’s Introductory Mathematics for Engineering Applications course as a model for undergraduate engineering education curricular reform. The work behind the Wright State Model (WSM) demonstrates that adoption of its introductory course can increase engineering student retention, motivation, and academic success (N. Klingbeil, Mercer, Rattan, Raymer, & Reynolds, 2006; N. Klingbeil & Bourne, 2013), and can remove “the first-year bottleneck” associated with the traditional first-year calculus sequence (Ohland, Yuhasz, & Sill, 2004; N. Klingbeil & Bourne, 2013; Long, Abrams, Barclay, & Paulson, 2016). Klingbeil & Bourne (2013) point to the promise of the Wright State Model in engineering education reform, claiming that the model “is designed to be readily adopted by any institution employing a traditional engineering curriculum… should it be sufficiently scaled… the Wright State approach has the potential to double the number of our nation’s engineering graduates, while both maintaining their quality and increasing their diversity” (p. 10, emphasis added). In our analysis, we reconsider the “diffusion” notion of “scaling” as it is typically used in educational research (McDonald, Keesler, Kauffman, & Schneider, 2006), proposing instead that innovations and adaptations are better conceived in terms of what educational anthropologists have called “scale-making” (Nespor, 2004). According to this perspective, scale-making is an active process of forming connections between, on one hand, new practices such as the WSM course, and on the other hand, existing networks that operate at a broader spatiotemporal scale—such as classrooms, course scheduling, course numbering, curricular flowcharts, and instructional staffing and student registration practices.

This paper draws on a qualitative dataset of student responses to biweekly “reflection questions” integrated into routine course activity in a pilot implementation of a Wright State-like Engineering Mathematics course. Alongside auto-ethnographic data from the course instructor and coordinator, this dataset illustrates the transformations involved in the scale-making process, and enables tracing the consequences of these transformations for the identities of people and social collectives involved in the course.

Tsai, J. Y., & O'Connor, K., & Myers, B. A., & Sullivan, J. F., & Reamon, D. T., & Anderson, K. M. (2018, June), Scaling Up or Scale-making? Examining Sociocultural Factors in a New Model for Engineering Mathematics Education Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/30950

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