June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
Cooperative & Experiential Education
22.1615.1 - 22.1615.18
Using Experiential Learning to Inspire, Educate, and Empower Underrepresented Undergraduates and Veterans Transitioning to Higher EducationThe vision of the Quality of Life Technology Engineering Research Center (QoLT ERC) is totransform the lives of people with reduced functional capabilities due to aging or disabilitythrough intelligent devices and systems. Through the ERC mechanism, a comprehensiveeducation and outreach program has been developed to inspire, educate, and empower students,especially those with disabilities. Through a well-established experiential learning initiative, theQoLT REU program, we have transformed students from dependent to independent thinkers,given them a sense of accomplishment and exposure to potential end-users, and providedexperience on a project that has a genuine fit to an ongoing ERC project. The benefits of thisprogram have resulted in personal gains of participants, an increased number of underrepresentedstudents in STEM graduate school programs, and the creation of a new program designed totransition veteran students with disabilities in to STEM education.The NSF funded Experiential Learning for Veterans in Assistive Technology and Engineering(ELeVATE) program will allow for active recruitment of veterans with disabilities in to STEM.The foundation created by the QoLT REU program which has followed social cognitive theoryand proven to not only increase students’ self-efficacy, but also confirm interest and engagementin engineering and technological disciplines through career exposure activities. Supplementaryworkshops have provided the necessary remediation to succeed in the program and beyond.New activities created for veteran students, especially with a focus on vocational andrehabilitation support, will prepare this population for their successful transition to college. TheREU mechanism which in addition to the aforementioned benefits, develops a support networkfor students, will be expanded through the academic year for the veteran participants. Studygroups, benefits assistance, and counseling opportunities will supplement the experientiallearning aspects of the program. The activities are designed to increase self-efficacy and outcomeexpectations which will encourage participants to apply to engineering programs. Once enrolled,support activities will help participants achieve their performance sub-goals and persist throughengineering degree programs which will ultimately result in enrolling in graduate school orobtaining an engineering career.Students are active participants and innovators in projects which address real-world problemswith systems-level engineering efforts, serving as a natural attractor to the discipline. Facilitatingthe programs collaboratively is in itself a best practice; it allows for an enhanced cohort, peer-to-peer mentoring, and maximization of resources for a sustainable training program designed toincrease the retention and promotion of underrepresented undergraduates in STEM disciplines.Though ELeVATE will only begin in the summer of 2011, its foundations are deep rooted in thesuccess of QoLT’s REU program which has advanced underrepresented students through theSTEM pipeline and delivered a promising model. Assessment efforts developed through theREU program will be adapted to evaluate this cohort with the goal of contributing towards thebodies of literature surrounding experiential learning, veterans in STEM education, and retentionand promotion of underrepresented students in STEM.
Goldberg, M. R., & Cooper, R. A., & Ding, D., & Koontz, A. (2011, June), Using Experiential Learning to Inspire, Educate, and Empower Underrepresented Undergraduates in STEM Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. https://peer.asee.org/18451
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