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Stepping out of the Comfort Zone - and the Country: Facilitating In-Depth Student Learning through Nontraditional Communication Assignments

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

They need more than technical skills!

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Boz Bowles Louisiana State University

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David "Boz" Bowles is a technical communication instructor and Engineering Communication Studio coordinator in the Chevron Center for Engineering Education at Louisiana State University. He earned a baccalaureate degree in English and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Virginia Commonwealth University.

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Paige Davis Louisiana State University

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Paige Davis has 22 years of experience in the College of Engineering at Louisiana State University. For the past seven years, she has directed a study abroad program specifically designed for engineering students. She received her bachelor's degree in engineering technology and master’s degree in industrial engineering.

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Adrienne Steele Louisiana State University

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Adrienne Steele has over 18 years experience in STEM education. Currently, Adrienne works at Louisiana State University, managing all aspects of the STEP project that consists of a large-scale peer mentoring program in the College of Engineering. Previously, she founded and coordinated the Scope-On-A-Rope Outreach Program (SOAR) in the Department of Biological Sciences, where she worked for 10 years. Prior to her positions at LSU, Adrienne was the Science Education Curator at the Louisiana Art and Science Museum in Baton Rouge. Adrienne has a Master of Science degree in zoology from LSU, where she studied in the Museum of Natural Science collections, and an Education Specialist Certification in science education.

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Key words: asynchronous learning, Bloom’s Taxonomy, innovative content delivery, communication modes, design, manufacturing, global community, multi-modal, blogs, travel journals, open-form narratives, video, cultural differences, technology, asynchronous class modules, virtual class, real-time simultaneous chats

Traditional engineering education methods often are driven by the need to cover large amounts of important material in the short time allowed by the semester or quarter system. However, teaching methods that are primarily concerned with the coverage of multiple topics can sometimes cause students to remain on a lower level of Bloom’s Taxonomy. This paper will discuss a series of non-traditional engineering assignments that were given as part of a study-abroad program. The instructors of this course intentionally employed unconventional assignments in order to affect students on a higher cognitive level. Students worked in non-traditional modes and genres about familiar topics in engineering education. Students visited manufacturing centers, historical sites, and universities to see facets of engineering in another culture; however, the assignments associated with these visits were well outside the comfort zone of most engineering educators and students.

Bowles, B., & Davis, P., & Steele, A. (2017, June), Stepping out of the Comfort Zone - and the Country: Facilitating In-Depth Student Learning through Nontraditional Communication Assignments Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28846

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