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Student Persistence Through Uncertainty Toward Successful Creative Practice

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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

Exploring Student Affairs, Identities, and the Professional Persona

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

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Paper Authors


Najla Mouchrek Virginia Tech

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Designer, Doctoral Student in the Individualized Interdisciplinary PhD in Human Centered Design at Virginia Tech. Master in Design at the Graduate Program in Design, Innovation and Sustainability, School of Design, University of the State of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Bachelor in Social Communication at the Faculty of Philosophy and Human Sciences, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Her current research focus on the application of co-creation and participatory design activities on education experiences in order to promote student's empowerment and engagement in sustainability and social change.

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Liesl M Baum Virginia Tech

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Dr. Liesl Baum is a Research Assistant Professor and Senior Fellow at Virginia Tech's Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Design. She is a former middle school teacher and spent seven years teaching in Virginia public schools. Her research interests and goals are to develop a frame of mind that allows for creativity to occur for public school teachers, university faculty, and students of all levels. She works with both university faculty and public school teachers to combine the arts, technology, and critical and creative thinking to teach content standards. Her research and work interests remain in public education and preparing teachers to design and develop teaching and learning opportunities that encourage students to take risks, inquire across multiple disciplines, and participate in real-world challenges. Liesl received her B.S. in Middle Education and M.S. in Educational Technology, both from Radford University. She received her doctorate in instructional design and technology from Virginia Tech.

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Lisa D. McNair Virginia Tech

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Lisa D. McNair is an Associate Professor of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech, where she also serves as co-Director of the VT Engineering Communication Center (VTECC) and CATALYST Fellow at the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT). Her research interests include interdisciplinary collaboration, design education, communication studies, identity theory and reflective practice. Projects supported by the National Science Foundation include exploring disciplines as cultures, interdisciplinary pedagogy for pervasive computing design; writing across the curriculum in Statics courses; as well as a CAREER award to explore the use of e-portfolios to promote professional identity and reflective practice.

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To increase creative practice among students in engineering and other disciplines, an interdisciplinary instructor team developed a cross-college undergraduate course aimed at open ideation and creative inquiry. One skill in the development of creative practice is identifying and addressing uncertainty avoidance behaviors, which are high in engineering students. We leverage research grounded in professional identity and cognitive design processes to study impacts of curriculum designed to address student persistence through, or indifference toward, uncertainty in creative practice. Questions we seek to explore are: What role does uncertainty avoidance play in developing creative practice, especially in interdisciplinary teams? What strategies can be used to overcome that uncertainty? To explore the role of uncertainty avoidance in the course, we analyze observational data of classroom activities, including ideation workshops, public critiques, team discussions, and artifacts of student work. Findings are used to draw conclusions about processes that are teachable in engineering and interdisciplinary learning environments, in terms of uncertainty avoidance and creativity. To this end, we offer initial directions and questions for future work that would contribute to a pedagogical model that helps engineering students succeed in interdisciplinary contexts.

Mouchrek, N., & Baum, L. M., & McNair, L. D. (2016, June), Student Persistence Through Uncertainty Toward Successful Creative Practice Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25914

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