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The Whole as the Sum of More Than the Parts: Developing Qualitative Assessment Tools to Track the Contribution of the Humanities and Social Sciences to an Engineering Curriculum

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Conference

2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Assessment and Liberal Education

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

Page Count

18

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/29024

Download Count

71

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Paper Authors

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Caitlin Donahue Wylie University of Virginia Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-0214-7837

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Caitlin Wylie is an assistant professor of Science, Technology and Society in the University of Virginia's School of Engineering and Applied Science.

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Kathryn A. Neeley University of Virginia

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Kathryn Neeley is Associate Professor of Science, Technology, and Society in the Engineering & Society Department of the School of Engineering and Applied Science. She is a past chair of the Liberal Education/Engineering & Society Division of ASEE and is particularly interested in the role of liberal education in developing engineering leaders.

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Toluwalogo Odumosu University of Virginia

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Toluwalogo “Tolu” Odumosu is Assistant Professor of Science, Technology and Society and Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Virginia. He also holds a Research Associate position at Harvard University.

He received his PhD in Science and Technology Studies from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, holds a M Eng. in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University and a BSc in Electrical Engineering from the University of Lagos in Nigeria. His research focuses on studying the various processes by which societies select, adopt and implement large technological systems with an emphasis on digital telecommunication technologies, particularly mobile telephony systems and the Internet.

At the University of Virginia, Tolu heads the Digital Privacy Research Laboratory.

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Abstract

As over sixteen years of experience have demonstrated, outcomes-based assessment under the EC2000 criteria has created a space to recognize the role of the humanities and social sciences in engineering education. At least five of the outcomes derive directly from the humanities and social sciences (HSS), and another three either require or are enriched by HSS perspectives. Assessment according to the various criteria, however, does not provide a sense of the total contribution of the HSS to engineering education. This paper describes an effort to assess the contributions of the field of Science, Technology, and Society to undergraduate engineering education at the University of Virginia. Specifically, it describes a pilot test of what we are calling an "STS Qualifying Exam," which our fourth-year engineering students (over 700 students) took in the Fall 2016 semester. Drawing on the perspective offered in Gary Downey's (2005) article, "Are Engineers Losing Control of Technology?", we consider engineering to rely on both problem definition and problem solution. We designed the Qualifying Exam to assess students’ ability to use sociotechnical analysis to define possible problems and solutions for a novel scenario. We also designed a way to efficiently evaluate over 700 exam essays of about 500 words each. To improve the exam design for future iterations, and to improve the effectiveness of how we teach sociotechnical analysis and other skills through STS courses, we used qualitative analysis to code the best exam essays. With this method, we identified the factors we consider to be hallmarks of good sociotechnical analysis, enabling future evaluation of these hallmarks. This paper describes the rationale for the exam, the factors shaping its design, its results, and what we learned from assessing our students’ skills qualitatively.

Wylie, C. D., & Neeley, K. A., & Odumosu, T. (2017, June), The Whole as the Sum of More Than the Parts: Developing Qualitative Assessment Tools to Track the Contribution of the Humanities and Social Sciences to an Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/29024

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