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Special Session: Moving towards the Intended, Explicit, and Authentic: Addressing Misalignments in Engineering Learning within Secondary and University Education

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Conference

2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Special Session: Moving Towards the Intended, Explicit, and Authentic: Addressing Critical Misalignments in Engineering Learning within Secondary and University Education

Tagged Divisions

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering, Liberal Education/Engineering & Society, and Educational Research and Methods

Page Count

24

Page Numbers

22.1318.1 - 22.1318.24

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/18502

Download Count

12

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Paper Authors

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Kevin Anderson University of Wisconsin, Madison

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Kevin Anderson is a Ph.D. candidate in the Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research focuses on primary through university STEM education policy and practice, and the alignment of education with professional practice. He previously taught science and math at the secondary level and earned the distinction of National Board Certified Teacher.

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Sandra Shaw Courter University of Wisconsin, Madison

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Sandra Shaw Courter is PI for the “Aligning Educational Experiences with Ways of Knowing Engineering (AWAKEN): How People Learn” project. She is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Engineering Professional Development and Wendt Commons: Teaching and Learning Services. Her area of research is engineering education including assessment of student learning. She taught technical communication courses to undergraduate engineering students and currently consults with faculty and teaching assistants. She earned her Ph.D. in educational administration at UW, Madison.

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Mitchell J. Nathan University of Wisconsin, Madison

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Mitchell J. Nathan, B.S.E.E., Ph.D., is Professor of Educational Psychology, with affiliate appointments in Curriculum & Instruction and Psychology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and a faculty fellow at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER) and the Center on Education and Work. Dr. Nathan studies the cognitive, embodied, and social processes involved in STEM reasoning, learning and teaching, especially in mathematics and engineering classrooms and in laboratory settings, using both quantitative and qualitative research methods. Dr. Nathan has secured over $20M in external research funds and has over 80 peer-reviewed publications in education and Learning Sciences research, as well as over 100 scholarly presentations to U.S. and international audiences. He is Principal Investigator or co-Principal Investigator of 5 active grants from NSF and the U.S. Dept. of Education, including the AWAKEN Project (funded by NSF-EEP), which examines learning, instruction, teacher beliefs and engineering practices in order to foster a more diverse and more able pool of engineering students and practitioners, and the Tangibility for the Teaching, Learning, and Communicating of Mathematics Project (NSF-REESE), which explores the role of materiality and action in representing mathematical concepts in engineering and geometry. Dr. Nathan is on the editorial board for several journals, including The Journal of Pre-College Engineering Education Research (J-Peer).

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Amy C. Prevost University of Wisconsin, Madison

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Ms. Prevost is a doctoral student in Education Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research is focused on the STEM career pipeline, especially related to engineering, engineering education and the molecular biosciences. In addition to her work in education research, she is also the Director of scientific courses at the BioPharmaceutical Technology Center Institute in Madison, WI, where she coordinates curricula in the area of molecular biology.

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Christine G. Nicometo University of Wisconsin, Madison

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Christine G. Nicometo is an associate faculty associate in the Engineering Professional Development (EPD) Department at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Within EPD, she teaches technical communication courses in three programs: Technical Communication Certificate (TCC); Masters of Engineering Professional Practice (MEPP); and Masters of Engineering Engine Systems (MEES). Through the College of Engineering, she also directs the New Educators Orientation Program. She has been an active member of ASEE since 2006.

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Traci M. Nathans-Kelly University of Wisconsin, Madison

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Traci Nathans-Kelly earned her Ph.D. in 1997. At that time, she was also the Program Director for the Scientific and Technical Communication B.S. degree at the University of Minnesota, Crookston. She came to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to teach in the College of Engineering's Technical Communication program, the MEPP program, and the MEES program. She instructs a variety of topics, including technical communication (graduate and undergraduate), technical presentations (graduate and undergraduate), technical editing, writing user manuals, and other courses. She is active in the Society for Technical Communication (STC) as Senior Member, where she is the Manager for International Technical Communication Special Interest Group, she is a member of the Committee on Global Strategies, and she judges at the international level for the STC Publications contests for scholarly journals, scholarly articles, and information materials. As a member of IEEE’s Professional Communication Society, she serves as a book series editor for “Professional Engineering Communication.” For the University of Wisconsin, Madison, she regularly holds workshops (both online and face-to-face) for practicing engineers all over the globe on how to improve their technical presentations.

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Thomas Dean McGlamery University of Wisconsin, Madison

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Amy K. Atwood University of Wisconsin, Madison

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Abstract

Special Session: Moving towards the Intended, Explicit, and Authentic: Addressing Critical Misalignments in Engineering Learning within Secondary and University EducationOur four-year NSF-funded study has identified two critical misalignments in the education of engineering studentsat the grades 9-16 level—one existing between intended and enacted curricula, the other between professionalpractice and engineering curricula. Our study of grade 9-12 instructors in Project Lead the Way (PLTW) coursesreveals a significant gap between the curricula instructors intend to share and that which they actually enact. Itfurther identifies missed opportunities to explicitly draw connections between basic technical and mathematicalskills and the engineering skill set. Our studies of engineering practice indicate that curricula in high school andcollege give students an incomplete picture of engineering work and often do not develop the full skill set needed tosuccessfully execute increasingly complex, interdisciplinary, and international projects in the engineeringworkplace. Because of these misalignments, potential engineering talent goes undeveloped at important stages ofeducational pathways as students move from high school to college.To better understand engineering practice, our research sought to define the engineering epistemic frame—engineers’ unique ways of thinking, knowing and doing. Research methods in this endeavor included mixedquantitative and qualitative online surveys, 140 interviews with practicing engineers, and case studies of sixengineering firms. Findings confirm that effective engineers value communication, problem-solving, teamwork,ethics, life-long learning, and business skills. They have a strong work ethic and passion for what they do.Our research group also used online surveys to uncover the beliefs of high school teachers and counselors aboutengineering. As part of the study of high school level engineering coursework, we analyzed PLTW curriculum andvideotaped lessons in PLTW courses and traditional math and science courses to look for integration of thesecourses. Findings include disparities among intended, enacted, and assessed curricula and how PLTW experiencesinfluence teacher’s views about preparing students for engineering careers. Implications for practice include theimportance at all levels of assessing student learning to measure enacted curricula and being explicit aboutintegrating attributes of practicing engineers to help students develop an engineering mindset.We believe that incorporating these findings into a special session would be of great value to the ERM communityas well as our partners at the secondary school levels. The session we have designed includes an interactive,engaging set of activities—along with supporting information—that will enable participants to better understand thenature of these misalignments and the challenges facing instructors and curriculum developers. Participants willleave the session with concrete ideas, based on empirical research, for how to better align their instruction withfoundational technical/mathematical skills and engineering practice. We will share: 1) insights into engineeringepistemologies within current social and economic contexts based on ethnographic work within six engineeringfirms; 2) insights into how to improve engineering learning mechanisms based on research into Project Lead theWay curriculum and instruction and on alignment with current engineering practice; and 3) insights into how toimprove engineering assessments through connections to authentic practice and explicitly interdisciplinaryconnections.Appendix A is an outline of the proposed 80-90 minute special session. ERM Special Session Request Form v1.1Appendix APhase 1: Welcome and Introductions (10 minutes) SPECIAL SESSION OUTLINE 1. Welcome participants to the session, share the desired learning outcomes for the session, and explain the nature of our research group (College of Engineering and School of Education collaboration) 2. Provide a quick overview of the group’s basic research methods and main findings about the epistemic frame of engineers as well as the challenges and successes in Project Lead the Way programs.Phase 2: Finding the Threads (30 minutes total) 1. Show classroom video clip (3 minutes) of a “missed opportunity” to explicitly connect mathematics skills to a secondary level engineering task 2. Open up guided discussion to participants in small groups. (7 minutes) a. What did the high school students think they were doing here? b. What opportunities for naming their actions were missed here? c. How could this opportunity have been captured instead of missed? 3. As a whole group, review key components in how people learn: application, reflection, authentic context, being explicit, making work count. Discuss the idea of threading understanding through multiple modalities (e.g., from mathematical equations, through design sketch, to physical fabrication, assembly and testing). Discuss the differences between the intended (or “idealized”) curriculum and the enacted (or actual) curriculum experiences of the students and instructor. (5 minutes) 4. Show classroom video clip #2 (3 minutes) of a “missed opportunity” to explicitly connect project work to authentic problem solving process of engineers 5. Open up guided discussion to participants in small groups. (7 minutes) a. What did the high school students think they were doing here? b. What opportunities for naming their actions were missed here? c. How could this opportunity have been captured instead of missed? 6. Whole group share-out: Where does this happen in your own teaching or curricula? (7 minutes) How can you take opportunities to thread key conceptual understanding (such as mathematics) through all modalities of learning?Phase 3: Drawing the Connections (30 minutes total) 1. Review best practices in education: Learning in context, Group-based learning, Increased time on task, Increased frequency of feedback, Positive classroom climate (Cabrero & LaNasa, 2002). (5 min) 2. Hand out an example assignment that demonstrates how an engineering assignment might look which incorporates these best practices in pedagogy, as well as practice-based engineering skills and connections with authentic problems (also explaining what curriculum and pedagogy looked like previous to this assignment). Discuss how the assessment portion of the assignment integrates these practice-based skills and provides exemplary feedback (7 min) 3. Have participants, in their small groups, discuss how the provided assignment could be altered, applied, and assessed as per their needs on-site. Have group members discuss how they could incorporate their understanding of the epistemic frame of engineers in their assignments. Notes will be taken on 3-M poster size paper. Session leaders will work with groups as facilitators, working with the application/assignment example provided as a base for the discussion. (15 min) 4. Whole group share-out: Have a couple groups share specific ideas for connecting the epistemic frame of engineers with one of their assignments in a way that incorporates best practices in education. Notes taken by each group will be made available on project website.Phase 4: Summary, Invitation to Share, Evaluation (10-15 minutes) 1. Summarize the key take-home ideas of the session, referring back to the stated learning outcomes. 2. Invite participants to share important applications of the learning they can see making within their own courses and work. 3. Show project website with published papers and presentations, share contact information, and point out handouts available including other engineering assignments that connect with our group’s findings. http://www.engr.wisc.edu/services/elc/hplengr.htm 4. Complete an evaluation of the session for ERM/ASEE and for our group. ERM Special Session Request Form v1.1

Anderson, K., & Courter, S. S., & Nathan, M. J., & Prevost, A. C., & Nicometo, C. G., & Nathans-Kelly, T. M., & McGlamery, T. D., & Atwood, A. K. (2011, June), Special Session: Moving towards the Intended, Explicit, and Authentic: Addressing Misalignments in Engineering Learning within Secondary and University Education Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. https://peer.asee.org/18502

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