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Understanding Context: Propagation and Effectiveness of the Concept Warehouse in Mechanical Engineering at Five Diverse Institutions and Beyond – Results from Year 1

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Conference

2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

NSF Grantees: Student Learning 1

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count

17

DOI

10.18260/1-2--35419

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/35419

Download Count

119

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Paper Authors

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Brian P. Self California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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Brian Self obtained his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Engineering Mechanics from Virginia Tech, and his Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the University of Utah. He worked in the Air Force Research Laboratories before teaching at the U.S. Air Force Academy for seven years. Brian has taught in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo since 2006. During the 2011-2012 academic year he participated in a professor exchange, teaching at the Munich University of Applied Sciences. His engineering education interests include collaborating on the Dynamics Concept Inventory, developing model-eliciting activities in mechanical engineering courses, inquiry-based learning in mechanics, and design projects to help promote adapted physical activities. Other professional interests include aviation physiology and biomechanics.

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Dominic J. Dal Bello Allan Hancock College

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Dom Dal Bello is Professor of Engineering at Allan Hancock College (AHC), a California Community College between UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He is Chair of the Mathematical Sciences Department, and Principal Investigator of the NSF S-STEM grant at AHC. He serves as Program Chair of the Two-Year College Division of ASEE, and Vice Chair/Community Colleges for the Pacific Southwest Section of ASEE.

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Milo Koretsky Oregon State University

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Milo Koretsky is a Professor of Chemical Engineering at Oregon State University. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from UC San Diego and his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley, all in Chemical Engineering. He currently has research activity in areas related engineering education and is interested in integrating technology into effective educational practices and in promoting the use of higher-level cognitive skills in engineering problem solving. His research interests particularly focus on what prevents students from being able to integrate and extend the knowledge developed in specific courses in the core curriculum to the more complex, authentic problems and projects they face as professionals. Dr. Koretsky is one of the founding members of the Center for Lifelong STEM Education Research at OSU.

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Susan Bobbitt Nolen University of Washington Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-2240-4447

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Susan Bobbitt Nolen is Professor Emerita of Learning Sciences & Human Development at the University of Washington. She earned her PhD in Educational Psychology at Pudue University. Her current research interests focus on student engagement in engineering practices and social interaction during learning activity, and their relationship to engineering identity and opportunity to learn. She also studies organizational learning in higher education systems.

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Christopher Papadopoulos University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus

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Christopher Papadopoulos is Professor in the Department of Engineering Sciences and Materials at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus (UPRM). He earned B.S. degrees in Civil Engineering and Mathematics from Carnegie Mellon University (1993) and a Ph.D. in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics at Cornell University (1999). Prior to UPRM, Papadopoulos served on the faculty in the Department of Civil engineering and Mechanics at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

Papadopoulos has diverse research and teaching interests in structural mechanics and bioconstruction (with emphasis in bamboo); appropriate technology; engineering ethics; and mechanics education. He has served as PI of several NSF-sponsored research projects and is co-author of Lying by Approximation: The Truth about Finite Element Analysis. He is active in the Mechanics Division.

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Michael J. Prince Bucknell University

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Dr. Michael Prince is a professor of chemical engineering at Bucknell University and co-director of the National Effective Teaching Institute. His research examines a range of engineering education topics, including how to assess and repair student misconceptions and how to increase the adoption of research-based instructional strategies by college instructors and corporate trainers. He is actively engaged in presenting workshops on instructional design to both academic and corporate instructors.

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James M. Widmann California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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Jim Widmann is a professor and chair of the Mechanical Engineering Department at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He received his Ph.D. in 1994 from Stanford University and has served as a Fulbright Scholar at Kathmandu University it Nepal. At Cal Poly, he teaches the College of Engineering's interdisciplinary, industry sponsored, senior project class as well as course in mechanics and design. He also conducts research in the areas of creative design, machine design, fluid power control, and engineering education.

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Abstract

Several consensus reports cite a critical need to dramatically increase the number and diversity of STEM graduates over the next decade. They conclude that a change to evidence-based instructional practices, such as concept-based active learning, is needed. Concept-based active learning involves the use of activity-based pedagogies whose primary objectives are to make students value deep conceptual understanding (instead of only factual knowledge) and then to facilitate their development of that understanding. Concept-based active learning has been shown to increase academic engagement and student achievement, to significantly improve student retention in academic programs, and to reduce the performance gap of underrepresented students. Fostering students' mastery of fundamental concepts is central to real world problem solving, including several elements of engineering practice. Unfortunately, simply proving that these instructional practices are more effective than traditional methods for promoting student learning, for increasing retention in academic programs, and for improving ability in professional practice is not enough to ensure widespread pedagogical change. In fact, the biggest challenge to improving STEM education is not the need to develop more effective instructional practices, but to find ways to get faculty to adopt the evidence-based pedagogies that already exist.

In this project we seek to propagate the Concept Warehouse, a technological innovation designed to foster concept-based active learning, into Mechanical Engineering (ME) and to study student learning with this tool in five diverse institutional settings. The Concept Warehouse (CW) is a web-based instructional tool that we developed for Chemical Engineering (ChE) faculty. It houses nearly 3,000 ConcepTests, which are short questions that can rapidly be deployed to engage students in concept-oriented thinking and/or to assess students’ conceptual knowledge, along with more extensive concept-based active learning tools. The CW has grown rapidly over the last four years (around 1,000 faculty accounts and 23,000 student users). We propose to expand use of the CW into ME and thereby impact 50,000 students during this project. Although the current CW content is discipline specific, the functions are generic and readily transferable to other engineering disciplines as content is developed.

To date, our Statics and our Dynamics Teams have developed 80 and 75 new ConcepTests, respectively. Question development and categorization has included a framework developed by Beatty, and includes utilizing Content, Process, and Epistemological Goals for each question. Beta testing with students is currently being conducted, and includes questions on both clarity and on educational effectiveness. Our goal is to create 150 ConcepTests in each subject by the time of the conference.

Twelve instructors from the partner schools have been recruited to help us study how context affects the adoption of the Concept Warehouse. These Phase I participants were asked to use the CW to deploy a Concept Inventory, and were then interviewed to examine the instructors’ perceptions of their institutional and learning context and their histories and beliefs. Phase II participants will be asked to deploy ConceptTests within their classrooms, and site visits will be conducted for additional interviews, classroom visits, and student focus groups. These will be used in conjunction with institutional context at five very different schools (a large research public university, a small private university, a 2-year college serving a large number of under-represented students, a large non-PhD granting public university, and a bilingual research university) to determine the conditions that are most supportive of adopting educational innovations.

Self, B. P., & Dal Bello, D. J., & Koretsky, M., & Nolen, S. B., & Papadopoulos, C., & Prince, M. J., & Widmann, J. M. (2020, June), Understanding Context: Propagation and Effectiveness of the Concept Warehouse in Mechanical Engineering at Five Diverse Institutions and Beyond – Results from Year 1 Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35419

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