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Transfer Of Adaptive Expertise To Transform Engineering Education

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Enhancing K-12 STEM Education with Engineering

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1277.1 - 15.1277.24



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Paper Authors

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Taylor Martin University of Texas, Austin


Tom Benton University of Texas, Austin

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Tom Benton received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas in 1999 and is currently a Masters student in the University's Educational Technology program. He is primarily interested in the development and study of systems that support collaboration between designers while scaffolding elements of the design process.

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William McKenna University of Texas, Austin

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Bill comes to education by way of acoustical engineering. He received his masters of mathematics from the University of North Texas about ten years ago, and after a brief but potentially promising career in acoustical test enclosures, he is now working towards a doctorate in Science and Mathematics Education. Helping to make the world a quieter place is a fine and noble thing, but it simply does not compare to educating people. These days Bill finds himself thinking about a number of topics including architecture (of schools, museums, learning spaces), museum exhibit design and visitor interaction, on-line learning tools, project-based instruction, teacher training, cultural formation and interaction within learning spaces, postmodern thought, learning and teaching by design, and emotional intelligence.

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Pat Ko University of Texas at Austin

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With degrees in electrical engineering and in computer science,
Pat worked in computer chip design before changing careers to teach
high school. He is currently a graduate student in STEM Education at
the University of Texas at Austin and his research interests include
measuring the educational benefits of middle school and high school
robotics programs.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Introduction The American engineering student faces an exciting and unpredictable future. Dwindling natural and economic resources, rapidly evolving technologies, and a well educated, globally distributed global workforce represent significant challenges to the status quo of U.S. engineering and engineering education. Meeting these challenges requires a transformation of how engineering is taught. Strong domain knowledge and technical expertise no longer make a well-rounded engineer; the rapid pace of change in science and engineeringalso requires high levels of ingenuity and adaptivity. Learning scientists describe these dual capabilities as “adaptive expertise” (AE). Adaptive experts are innovative: they are able to creatively leverage their experience and perform well in novel and fluid situations. They are also efficient: they apply their core taxonomic knowledge appropriately and expeditiously. Common engineering educational methods succeed well at developing either efficiency (e.g., traditional lecture-based instruction) or innovation (e.g., problem-based instruction, or PBI). Our prior research demonstrated that a semester of challenge-based instruction (CBI) develops both innovation and efficiency in students (Martin et al., 2006). However, the positive results shown for developing innovation and efficiency must transfer beyond the classroom to have lasting impact. Do CBI learning experiences place learners on a trajectory towards demonstrating adaptive expertise in the workplace, after they have left the classroom? We are examining this question in the context of the UTeach Engineering National Science Foundation Math and Science Partnership (MSP) in-service teacher program. The MSP is a partnership between The University of Texas at Austin's School of Engineering, College of Education, and UTeach Natural Sciences program and the Austin Independent School District. These partners are collaborating to develop and deliver an innovative design- based curriculum for preparing secondary teachers of engineering. The participants in this study were high school teachers in the first cohort of the UTeach Engineering Summer Institutes for Teachers (ESIT) program. The 23 participants had an average of six years classroom experience teaching mathematics or science. While some of the teachers were also teaching engineering or engineering-related courses, most were preparing for their first experience in an engineering classroom. The six-week ESIT consisted of a pair of integrated design challenge based courses: Fundamentals of Engineering Design and Problem Solving and the Project-Based Lesson Development. Our primary research questions were 1) was the ESIT successful in improving teachers’ innovation and efficiency and 2) does this change translate to teacher practice? Our results are primarily descriptive due to low sample sizes and inconsistency in response rates on pre- and post measures. However, our results suggest that teachers efficiency and innovation in engineering improved during the ESIT. Teachers significantly improved on measures of basic engineering knowledge and pedagogy from pre- to posttest. We also found that teachers increased the student-centeredness of their

Martin, T., & Benton, T., & McKenna, W., & Ko, P. (2010, June), Transfer Of Adaptive Expertise To Transform Engineering Education Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16881

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2010 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015