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Shifting Departmental Culture to Re-Situate Learning

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session II

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Milo Koretsky Oregon State University

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Milo Koretsky is a Professor of Chemical Engineering at Oregon State University. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from UC San Diego and his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley, all in Chemical Engineering. He currently has research activity in areas related engineering education and is interested in integrating technology into effective educational practices and in promoting the use of higher-level cognitive skills in engineering problem solving. His research interests particularly focus on what prevents students from being able to integrate and extend the knowledge developed in specific courses in the core curriculum to the more complex, authentic problems and projects they face as professionals. Dr. Koretsky is one of the founding members of the Center for Lifelong STEM Education Research at OSU.

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Michelle Kay Bothwell Oregon State University Orcid 16x16


Susan Bobbitt Nolen University of Washington Orcid 16x16

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Professor of Learning Sciences & Human Development

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Devlin Montfort Oregon State University

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Dr. Montfort is an Assistant Professor in the School of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering at Oregon State University

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James D. Sweeney Oregon State University

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James D. Sweeney is Professor and Head of the School of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering at Oregon State University. He received his Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in Biomedical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University in 1988 and 1983, respectively, and his Sc.B. Engineering degree (Biomedical Engineering) from Brown University in 1979. He is a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

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Shifting Departmental Culture to Re-Situate Learning

This paper presents our initial efforts in revolutionizing the undergraduate learning environment in the School of Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering at Oregon State University (CBEE), with particular emphasis directed toward the use of base-line, qualitative data to inform future project activities. While we currently provide students many innovative learning opportunities, we are concerned that the extent to which these efforts are marginalized and isolated may deter from their influence. To address this issue, we plan to create a holistic, inclusive, professionally-based learning environment woven through both curricular requirements and co-curricular opportunities for students. We specifically target social inequality by seeking to create engineering educational systems and interpersonal interactions that are professionally and personally life-affirming for all people across their differences. We seek to catalyze change through construction of a culture of inclusion and a shift in our learning environments from sequestered activities to realistic, consequential work. This requires a fundamental change in the nature of department culture (values, norms and structure).

Project activities include: (1) curricular redesign of 9 core sophomore- and junior-level studio classes to include more realistic, consequential work leveraging research-based pedagogies like problem-based learning and model-eliciting activities; (2) growing faculty and students’ capacity to engage issues of inclusivity by shifting their cognitive and affective knowledge of power and privilege; (3) planning and implementing student professional development pods, longitudinally mixed student teams where students help one another understand the university experience and how it relates to professional practice; and (4) implementing formal changes in governing policies and procedures within CBEE.

This work is supported by the National Science Foundation pilot program Revolutionizing Engineering Departments (RED) that is aligned with the NSF Engineering (ENG) Directorate’s multi-year initiative, the Professional Formation of Engineers, to create and support an innovative and inclusive engineering profession for the 21st Century.

Koretsky, M., & Bothwell, M. K., & Nolen, S. B., & Montfort, D., & Sweeney, J. D. (2016, June), Shifting Departmental Culture to Re-Situate Learning Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26183

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