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Using Video to Tie Engineering Themes to Foundational Concepts

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Curriculum Development and Multidisciplinary Instruction

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1347.1 - 23.1347.13



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Paper Authors


Darshita N. Shah Teaching and Learning Laboratory at MIT

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Darshita (Dipa) Shah is the Associate Director for Teaching and Learning in MIT's Teaching and Learning Lab (TLL). Dipa's primary role is to assist in the development of curricular innovations on campus and to provide professional development around teaching and learning for graduate students and faculty.

Before joining TLL, Dipa played an integral role in developing instructional materials for the Engineering is Elementary (EiE) project at the Museum of Science in Boston. Used by more than 25,000 teachers, EiE is a research-based program that reinforces elementary science topics, creativity, problem solving, and teamwork skills through hands-on engineering design challenges. Dipa also helped establish proof-of-concept for Engineering Adventures, a new engineering curriculum being designed specifically for use in after-school and camp settings.

Dipa previously served as a member of the education staff at The Discovery Museum and Planetarium in Bridgeport, Connecticut. There, she trained and supervised science instructors, developed and taught hands-on physical science labs for Grades 3-8 in the museum and in after-school programs, and managed various grant-funded projects.

Dipa received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from North Carolina State University and her Ph.D. in Chemical and Biological Engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her doctoral research focused on the development of polymeric biomaterials for heart valve tissue engineering.

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Jennifer E French Teaching and Learning Laboratory at MIT

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Jennifer joined the teaching and learning laboratory at MIT as a Postdoctoral Associate for Mathematics Education at the beginning of the video project, on year after completing a PhD in mathematics at MIT. She was one of the team members who developed the mapping of the engineering curriculum map for the Singapore University of Technology and Design.

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Janet Rankin The Teaching & Learning Lab - MIT

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Lori Breslow Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Using Video to Tie Engineering Themes to Foundational ConceptsMultidisciplinary themes in a typical undergraduate engineering curriculum were identifiedthrough a concept mapping process. The identification of these themes guided the creation of aset of 24 educational videos. Each 15-minute video highlighted one of these themes byconnecting it to a pivotal concept or critical skill from the first two years of a traditionalengineering curriculum. Times to pause the video were incorporated to allow for studentinteraction – providing opportunities for students to predict the outcome of demonstrations,engage in discussion of concepts, and perform classroom activities tied to the intended learningoutcome of each video. The content of the videos was carefully designed to highlight a conceptthat would reappear throughout the curriculum, but was rooted in concrete visual examplesaccessible to first or second year engineering students. The videos utilized animations,visualizations, demonstrations, and/or examples from a variety of engineering and sciencedisciplines to further the intended learning outcomes.In order to identify multidisciplinary themes, we began by identifying pivotal concepts andcritical skills by using a “backwards design” process to clarify content priorities. We aggregatedthe intended learning outcomes from the traditional foundational courses (e.g., chemistry,physics, mathematics) and considered what concepts and skills supported these learningoutcomes. We refined our list of pivotal concepts and critical skills through a literature search onstudent misconceptions and integrated curricula. In the end, a concept or skill was identified aspivotal when it satisfied one of two criteria: (1) it was multidisciplinary; or (2) it was pre-requisite for multiple concepts that would be taught in upper-level courses.By sorting the pivotal concepts and critical skills and looking for commonalities at a higher levelof abstraction, we were able to identify the following multidisciplinary themes: Conservation,Derivatives and Integrals, Differential Equations, Equilibrium, Governing Rules, InformationSystems, Linearity, Representations, Structure-Function-Properties, Modelling, Communication,Problem Solving, and Teamwork. These themes are apparent to engineering faculty anddiscipline experts, but are generally not made explicit for novice learners.Within each video, the themes contextualized the pivotal concept or critical skill presented,focusing the content. At the same time, the themes provided a broader lens through which toview ideas in science and engineering. By using the themes as the backbone for the videodevelopment process, we hoped to help students transfer their knowledge across domains andconnect concepts that may otherwise appear to be from disparate disciplines.These videos were designed for both in-class and outside-of-class use. Instructor guidescontaining relevant background information and suggested pre- and post-video activitiesaccompany each video. These videos are currently in use at an undergraduate engineeringuniversity and will soon be posted online for free use by the general public. Preliminary feedbackfrom the undergraduate engineering university has been positive and has led to continuedfunding for an additional 24 videos. The process used to design these multidisciplinary videos aswell as formative assessment data collected from student and faculty users will be presented.

Shah, D. N., & French, J. E., & Rankin, J., & Breslow, L. (2013, June), Using Video to Tie Engineering Themes to Foundational Concepts Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22732

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