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Storytelling in Thermodynamics: ABET, retention, and self-identification

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2019 ASEE PNW Section Conference


Corvallis, Oregon

Publication Date

March 20, 2019

Start Date

March 20, 2019

End Date

March 22, 2019

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Eric Jankowski Boise State University Orcid 16x16

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Dr Jankowski's interest in efficiency underpins his research in thermodynamic self-assembly for materials and his research into how to best empower students as effective engineers. He is an assistant professor in Boise State University's Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering. Dr. Jankowski was recognized as a "Young Pacesetter" by ASEE in 2018 (

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Sara Hagenah Boise State University

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In this work describe a project that simultaneously attempts to meet ABET outcome 3 (an ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences), improve retention of at-risk students, and understand how students in an undergraduate materials curriculum develop their professional identity. This project is inspired by prior research showing that self-identification with one's major is the strongest predictor of degree completion, especially among women and minority students in STEM. We collaborate with The Story Collider, a national science storytelling nonprofit, to provide story development instruction and feedback to juniors taking Thermodynamics of Materials. We test a single storytelling intervention: An assignment in which students develop "True, personal stories about a time thermodynamics happened", and measure student attitudes with a Likert scale survey before and after the intervention. Preliminary results across two cohorts indicate increases in self-identification as materials scientists. We also discuss plans for measuring long-term success and retention as well as the impacts of hosting a public Story Collider wherein a selection of stories are performed live.

Jankowski, E., & Hagenah, S. (2019, March), Storytelling in Thermodynamics: ABET, retention, and self-identification Paper presented at 2019 ASEE PNW Section Conference, Corvallis, Oregon.

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