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Student Experiences in a Structural Engineering Course: Responses of Violation and Grief When a Novice Instructor Implements Project-Based Learning

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Student Experiences and Motivation: ERM Roundtable

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1417.1 - 26.1417.16



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Paper Authors


Jillian Seniuk Cicek University of Manitoba

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Jillian Seniuk Cicek is a Ph.D. Candidate in Engineering Education in the Department of Biosystems Engineering, Faculty of Engineering at the University of Manitoba, in Winnipeg, Canada. She is a research assistant for the Center for Engineering Professional Practice and Engineering Education in the Faculty of Engineering. Her research areas include outcomes-based teaching and assessment, and student-centered instruction. She is involved in the University of Manitoba Faculty of Engineering’s curriculum improvement process.

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Marcia R Friesen P.Eng. University of Manitoba


Sandra Ingram University of Manitoba

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Sandra Ingram, Ph.D., is a SSHRC award-winning scholar and Associate professor in Design Engineering, Associate Chair (NSERC Design Engineering) and adjunct professor in Biosystems Engineering at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada. Dr. Ingram is responsible for teaching the technical communication course in the faculty as well as an integrated approach to communications in the Biosystems Engineering department. Her research interests include professional skills in engineering, internationally educated engineers, co-operative education programs, women in engineering, and post-graduate training of engineers

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Douglas Warren Ruth

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Teaching Structural Engineering Using Project-Based Learning:The Social Constructionist Nature of Teaching, Learning and Assessment: A Case StudyThis research paper presents a collective case study conducted to investigate theinteractional nature of teaching, learning and assessment in a structural engineeringcourse that was redesigned using a project-based pedagogy. Time, place and participantsbound the case. The unit of analysis was the course, a third-year structural engineeringcore, taught in winter 2013 and winter 2014 by one instructor at a single university. Thescope of this study encompassed an instructor’s planned pedagogical approaches andeducational objectives, and his implementation of the course as experienced andperceived by the instructor, two cohorts of students in two consecutive course offerings,and one set of teaching assistants. The study focused on participants’ perceptions andexperiences of learning goals, content, learning methods and assessment in the project-based course, but did not involve direct assessment of students’ learning outcomes. Datacollection methods included a student survey, focus groups, interviews and coursework,as well as interviews with each the instructor and teaching assistants. A thematic analysiswithin each cohort and across both cohorts was conducted to inform assertions. The casewas unique in the fact that the instructor, an experienced professional engineer withextensive industry background, was new to the academic role and to teaching, and theinstructional design was planned as a departure from the previous offerings of the courseas a traditional lecture-tutorial format with isolated, individualized assessments. Findingsshowed that students’ perceptions and experiences could not be separated from having anovice instructor deliver the course. Students, teaching assistants, and the instructor’sexperiences and perceptions were all relatively different, lending the analysis of the datato a social constructivist interpretation. In this theoretical view, experiences andperceptions of teaching, learning and assessment are contextualized within participants’understandings of the course objectives, the amount of coursework, the type ofinstruction that they experience, and the level of control or lack of control that they haveover their own learning. The findings of this study speak to the need to create a culture ofmentorship to support new instructors within the engineering faculty.ERM DIVISION CALL FOR PAPERSThe  Educational Research and Methods Division (ERM) seeks  Paper,  Special  Session,  and  Workshop  proposals  on  topics  related  to  ERM'ʹs  primary  objective,  to  promote  scholarly  research  on  engineering  education.  Topics  include  teaching,  learning,  assessment  and  evaluation;  broadening  participation,  and  other  aspects  related  to  engineering  education  practice  and  research;  disseminating  findings;  and  enhancing  the  status  of  teaching  and  engineering  education  research  in  the  university  and  beyond.  There  are  three  types  of  submissions:  • Papers:  Manuscripts  that  further  the  Division  objective  stated  above.  Papers  must  include  relevant  prior  work  and  literature  citations,  methodology,  and  research/assessment  results.  All  Papers  will  be  “publish-­‐‑to-­‐‑present,”  meaning:   • A  favorable  peer-­‐‑review  of  a  submitted  abstract  will  lead  to  an  invitation  to  submit  a  full   paper.  A  favorable  peer  review  of  a  submitted  paper  will  lead  to  acceptance.   • Only  accepted  papers  will  be  considered  for  inclusion  in  a  Conference  podium  or  poster   session.   • Presentation  of  the  paper  at  the  Conference  is  required  for  publication  of  the  paper  in  the   Conference  proceedings.  All  categories  of  papers  could  be  assigned  to  either  a  podium  or   poster  session.   • All  abstracts  and  papers  must  be  submitted  through  ASEE’s  Monolith  System   • Special  Sessions:  90-­‐‑minute  sessions  with  non-­‐‑traditional  formats  occurring  during  the   regular  Conference  program  that  explore  a  topic  in  depth.  Special  Sessions  should  have   explicitly  stated  learning  goals  that  cannot  be  met  in  a  traditional  paper  presentation.   Special  sessions  are  90  minutes  in  length.  They  do  not  require  a  paper  submission.  A   maximum  of  two  Special  Sessions  will  accepted  for  the  Conference  program.   • Workshops:  Full  day  or  half-­‐‑day  sessions  on  the  Sunday  of  the  Conference  that  equip   attendees  to  learn  about  a  topic  and  apply  the  knowledge  to  their  own  setting.  Guidelines for EvaluationAbstracts and PapersThe  ERM  Division  uses  a  blind  review  process  when  reviewing  abstracts  and  papers,  and  it  is  the  authors’  responsibility  to  ensure  that  the  requirements  for  blind  review  are  met.  Authors’  names  and  institutions  should  not  be  included  in  the  texts,  file  names,  and  file  properties  of  submitted  manuscripts.  Abstracts  should  follow  the  ASEE  Abstract  Format  guidelines  (­‐‑  and-­‐‑events/conferences/annual-­‐‑conference/2013),  and  should  contain  sufficient  information  for  reviewers  to  judge  whether  the  full  paper  will  meet  the  Division’s  evaluation  criteria.  ERM welcomes papers from a variety of epistemological, methodological, and theoreticaltraditions including qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches.There are four categories of paper submissions: Research, Evidence-basedPractice, Synthesis or Other.1)  Research  Papers  -­‐‑  Research  papers  should  present  new  findings,  situate  their  contributions  in  a  context  of  prior  findings  and  models,  describe  methodology,  present  results,  and  discuss  implications  of  the  work  and/or  future  directions  for  research.  2)  Evidence-­‐‑based  Practice  Papers  –  Practice  papers  should  analyze  (e.g.,  provide  design  rationale,  support  with  evidence,  demonstrate  achievement  of  intended  outcomes)  one  or  more  engineering  education  practices  (including  teaching  approaches  and  uses  of  instructional  technologies,  institutional  strategies  to  support  student  success,  etc...),  3)  Synthesis  Papers  –  Synthesis  papers  (such  as  meta-­‐‑analyses)  should  study  previous  literature  to  uncover  relationships,  generate  patterns,  discern  trends,  etc.  Based  on  the  synthesis,  papers  may  suggest  innovative  methodologies  or  unconventional  approaches.  4)  Other  -­‐‑  Papers  that  do  not  fit  the  previous  three  categories.  The  criteria  for  abstract  review  is  the  same  for  all  paper  categories.  The  abstract  should  address  the  motivation  and  background  of  the  work,  methodology  (including  assessment  methods),  research/assessment  results,  and  conclusions  and  significance.  Literature  citations  should  not  be  included  in  the  abstract.  Authors’  names  or  institutional  names  should  not  be  included  in  the  abstract,  filename,  or  document  properties.  It  is  the  author’s  responsibility  to  ensure  that  the  requirements  for  blind  review  are  met.  Full  manuscripts  of  papers  will  be  evaluated  based  on  the  extent  to  which  applicable  criteria  shown  below  are  met.  Papers  that  fail  to  meet  all  of  the  criteria  may  still  be  considered  acceptable  based  on  potential  to  further  the  ERM  Division  objective.  General  evaluation  criteria  for  all  paper  types:   • The  manuscript  is  complete.  Authors  should  not  expect  to  make  substantial  changes  in  a   manuscript  following  its  acceptance.   • The  study  is  likely  to  interest  a  broad  group  of  engineering  education  researchers  and/or   practitioners.   • The  work  builds  upon  relevant  references  and  bodies  of  knowledge.   • The  findings  or  ideas  presented  are  generalizable  or  transferable  to  other  settings.   • The  manuscript  is  clear  and  coherent.   • The  study  is  original  and  innovative.   • The  study  advances  engineering  education  research  and/or  practice.   1. Research  Papers   1. Background/literature  review  is  situated  in  previous  work.     2. Research  methodologies  are  valid  and  reliable  or  trustworthy  and  credible  and   are  based  on  previously  established  methods  or  newly  developed  and  validated   methodologies.  Findings  are  generalizable  or  transferable.     3. Analysis  and  interpretation  methods  are  grounded  in  the  literature       2. Evidence-­‐‑based  Practice  Papers   1. Includes  background  and/or  literature  review.     2. Methodologies  are  valid  and  reliable  or  trustworthy  and  credible.  Findings  are   generalizable  or  transferable.     3. Analysis  and  interpretation  methods  are  grounded  in  the  literature       3. Synthesis  Papers   a.  Integration  of  existing  literature  is  compelling  to  the  engineering  education   community.   b.  Ideas  presented  “push  the  envelope”  of  the  state  of  the  art  in  engineering  education.   4. Other  –  These  papers  will  be  evaluated  based  on  general  criteria  listed  above.  

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