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WIP: Practical Applications for Students With Autism Spectrum Disorders in the Freshman Engineering Curriculum

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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

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First-Year Programs

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Deana R. Delp Ph.D. Arizona State University

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Deana R. Delp has a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Arizona State University. She is a lecturer at Arizona State University for Engineering Academic and Student Affairs in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. She is the chair of the IEEE Computational Intelligence Society Continuing Education sub-committee. She has industry experience as a systems engineer for General Dynamics Mission Systems, and as a research and development product engineer for Test Acuity Solutions.

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This Work in Progress focuses on first year engineering students regarding the topic of inclusivity and retention by assisting students diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Students with an ASD have a high systemize to empathize ratio. These characteristics lead many students with an ASD to enroll in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curricula in college. Also, more students are receiving a diagnosis and subsequent accommodations in secondary school. Due to these factors, it is becoming more prevalent to have a student with an ASD in the freshman engineering classroom. Students with an ASD can face many obstacles at the collegiate level. Some students may have issues with socializing, organizing assignments, time management, distractions in the classroom, notetaking, and unknowingly taking over questions/discussions. In addition, at the collegiate level the student must advocate for himself or herself. Some freshmen students may not sign up with a disability resource center, either due to unfamiliarity, or due to limited accommodations offered. The student may choose to self-disclose to the faculty, however some students do not disclose their diagnosis and subsequent need for classroom accommodations. A typical freshman engineering class will utilize teamwork on large design projects. This can be daunting for a student with an ASD in terms of the social aspects and the organization of a large assignment with multiple due dates. However, many ASD students are visual learners and do well with “hands-on” projects, and may just need assistance keeping track of assignments. Faculty members should have direct communication with the students and provide accommodations with guided group work, a consistent format for assignments, breaking projects in to smaller assignments, and making slides/lectures available before class. Currently, a freshman engineering class has implemented these adjustments and accommodations. This work in progress will discuss this innovative practice and provide comments and feedback from ASD students, and the student population in general.

Delp, D. R. (2021, July), WIP: Practical Applications for Students With Autism Spectrum Disorders in the Freshman Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--38094

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