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WIP: Engineering As a Social Discipline: Shaping First-Year Students’ Understanding

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

First-Year Programs Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count

15

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/38082

Download Count

156

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Paper Authors

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Stacie Edington University of Michigan

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Stacie Edington is the Director of Honors and Engagement Programs within the University of Michigan, College of Engineering. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Michigan and her Master of Science in Executive Leadership from the University of San Diego. In addition to serving on the instructional team for ”Engineering 110: Design Your Engineering Experience”, she teaches the Engineering Honors Seminar, directs the College of Engineering Honors Program and oversees the Michigan Engineering Common Reading Experience.

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Steven J. Skerlos University of Michigan

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Professor Steven J. Skerlos is Arthur F. Thurnau Professor at the University of Michigan. He is a tenured faculty member in Mechanical Engineering and Civil and Environmental Engineering. He also serves as a UM Distinguished Faculty Fellow in Sustainability.

He is Director of Sustainability Education Programs in the College of Engineering and Co-Director of the Engineering Sustainable Systems Program. He is Chief Science Officer of Fusion Coolant Systems.

Professor Skerlos has gained national recognition and press for his research and teaching in the fields of technology policy and sustainable design. He has co-founded two successful start-up companies (Accuri Cytometers and Fusion Coolant Systems), co-founded BLUElab, served as Director of the Graduate Program in Mechanical Engineering (2009-2012), and served as associate and guest editor for four different academic journals.

His Ph.D. students in the Environmental and Sustainable Technologies Laboratory have addressed sustainability challenges in the fields of systems design, technology selection, manufacturing, and water.

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Claudia G. Cameratti-Baeza University of Michigan

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At CRLT, Claudia works with the Foundational Course Initiative (FCI) as Pedagogy & Instructional Design Consultant. In this role, she partners with departmental instructional teams and fellow FCI consultants to support the University’s large introductory courses, create productive teaching and learning experiences, and improve equity across the institution.
Claudia Cameratti-Baeza earned her B.Sc. at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (Chile) in Educational Psychology in 200. Following that she completed her M.Sc. in Cognitive Development at Universidad Diego Portales (Chile). During the first years of her professional life, Claudia focused her work in teacher education and the creation of different resources to support the learning of teaching at different levels. In 2006 she became the associate director of faculty development at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile School of Engineering, where she led initiative oriented to improve instructional practices in engineering education. In 2011, she went to complete a Ph.D. in teaching and teacher education at the University of Michigan School of Education. During her Ph.D., Claudia enjoyed teaching and instructional design at the Ann Arbor Languages Partnership (A2LP), as well as participating in research groups exploring teacher learning and development.

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Abby M. Chapin University of Michigan

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Abby Chapin (she/her) is a graduate of the University of Michigan, having received a BSE in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Art and Design in 2020. Abby is currently pursing a MS from the University of Michigan in the Design Science program and plans to pursue further educational and career opportunities involving human-centered design, product development, and global health.

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Frank J. Marsik University of Michigan

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Frank Marsik is the Faculty Director of First Year Student Engagement in Undergraduate Education within the University of Michigan, College of Engineering. He received his PhD from the University of Michigan. In addition to serving as the primary instructor for "Engineering 110: Design Your Engineering Experience", he also teaches a number of meteorology courses within the Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering and is the Director for an NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates site program.

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Abstract

This Work in Progress paper will explore the efforts to weave an exploration of engineering as both a social and a technical discipline into an elective course for first year students. Students enter the discipline with perceptions that engineering is an applied field involving problem solving and teamwork, but have often not considered engineering as a complex discipline that requires both technical knowledge and contextual understanding of social and societal factors (Karataş, et al., 2016). To be successful, engineering solutions need to be technically sound; however, they must also be desirable and feasible when considering both contextual constraints and consequences to local and global scales (Palmer, et al., 2011; Ro, Merson, Lattuca, and Terenzini, 2015).

Engineering 110 is an introductory course in which students explore the breadth of opportunities available to engineers in both their education and their career. The course is structured around three key themes: What is Engineering?, Exploring Michigan and Michigan Engineering, and Self-Understanding. In Fall 2020, 50% of the first year undergraduate engineering students at our institution enrolled in this course.

Students explore elements of the course through online Foundation, Engagement and Exploration modules accompanied by in-class discussion. During the Fall 2020 semester, the instructional team integrated the theme of engineering as a social discipline into multiple aspects of the course, including three of the initial five foundation modules, multiple in-class discussion topics (social identity, decision-making, educational planning, ethics, etc.), and a design and decision-making model introduced to students in partnership with [a program focused on socially engaged design] at our institution. Additionally, all first-year students at our institution participate in a Common Read Experience, for which one of the program goals is “to facilitate meaningful discussions regarding the role and responsibility of an engineer in society, as well as emphasize the importance of engineers developing competencies beyond the technical.” (Edington, Holmes & Reinke, 2015) Students who were enrolled in Engineering 110 discussed the required text through in-class dialogue, thereby providing another avenue to shape first year students’ understanding of engineering as a social discipline. Finally, this theme was often reinforced by faculty and guest speakers through faculty perspective videos and a Perspectives on Engineering speaker series.

This paper examines whether framing engineering as a social discipline within the first semester influences the choices students make for future academic and experiential learning. The course culminates with an action plan that students design for the remainder of their academic experience. We will conduct a qualitative analysis of student submissions for the action plan and provide data collected through two in-class student activities. We will also draw on student responses from a post survey administered at the completion of the Fall 2020 semester to understand how the framing of engineering as a social discipline shaped students' learning.

Future work should involve a longitudinal assessment of the impact of these efforts, including an examination of the impact on sense of belonging and persistence, particularly for female and underrepresented minority students.

Edington, S., & Skerlos, S. J., & Cameratti-Baeza, C. G., & Chapin, A. M., & Marsik, F. J. (2021, July), WIP: Engineering As a Social Discipline: Shaping First-Year Students’ Understanding Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/38082

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