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Work in Progress: Preparing Graduate Students to Engage in Multicultural Environments

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Conference

2021 CoNECD

Location

Virtual - 1pm to 5pm Eastern Time Each Day

Publication Date

January 24, 2021

Start Date

January 24, 2021

End Date

January 28, 2021

Conference Session

CoNECD Session : Day 1 Slot 6 Technical Session 3

Tagged Topics

Diversity and CoNECD Paper Submissions

Page Count

15

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/36146

Download Count

25

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Paper Authors

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Teirra K. Holloman Virginia Tech Department of Engineering Education

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Teirra Holloman is a doctoral student in engineering education at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, where she serves as a graduate research assistant. She is concurrently pursuing a MS in Industrial and Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech with a focus in Management Systems.Teirra received her BS in Industrial Engineering from Clemson University. Her research interests revolve around broadening participation in engineering and global education programs, experiential learning, and workforce development.

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Walter C. Lee Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-5082-1411

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Dr. Walter Lee is an assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Education and the assistant director for research in the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity (CEED), both at Virginia Tech. His research interests include co-curricular support, student success and retention, and diversity. Lee received his Ph.D in engineering education from Virginia Tech, his M.S. in industrial & systems engineering from Virginia Tech, and his B.S. in industrial engineering from Clemson University.

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Kirsten A. Davis Purdue University at West Lafayette (COE) Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-9929-5587

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Kirsten Davis is a Ph.D. candidate in Engineering Education and an M.S. student in Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech. She is the graduate assistant for the Rising Sophomore Abroad Program, a global engineering course and study abroad program for first year engineering students. Her primary research focuses on the design and assessment of global engineering programs, but she also studies the development of systems thinking skills in engineering students. Kirsten was recently awarded the Harold Josephson award for professional promise in international education by the Association of International Education Administrators. She holds a B.S. in Engineering & Management from Clarkson University and an M.A.Ed. in Higher Education from Virginia Tech. 

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Jeremi S. London Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Dr. Jeremi London is an Assistant Professor in the Engineering Education Department at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. London is a mixed methods researcher with interests in research impact, cyberlearning, and instructional change in STEM Education. Prior to being a faculty member, London worked at the National Science Foundation, GE Healthcare, and Anheuser-Busch. She earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in Industrial Engineering, and a Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Purdue University.

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David B. Knight Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-4576-2490

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David B. Knight is an Associate Professor and Assistant Department Head of Graduate Programs in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. He is also Director of Research of the Academy for Global Engineering at Virginia Tech, and is affiliate faculty with the Higher Education Program. His research tends to be at the macro-scale, focused on a systems-level perspective of how engineering education can become more effective, efficient, and inclusive, tends to be data-driven by leveraging large-scale institutional, state, or national data sets, and considers the intersection between policy and organizational contexts. He has B.S., M.S., and M.U.E.P. degrees from the University of Virginia and a Ph.D. in Higher Education from Pennsylvania State University.

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Tremayne O'Brian Waller Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Tremayne O. Waller is the Director of Graduate Student Programs at Virginia Tech. He was the Interim Director for the Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives (OADI) and Director of the McNair Scholars Program at Cornell University. He has also worked as the Associate Director of Advising and Diversity in the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning and Diversity Programs in Engineering at Cornell University. He completed his Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Virginia Tech.

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John J. Lesko Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Jack serves as the Associate Dean for Research & Graduate Studies in VT’s College of Engineering, Professor of Engineering Mechanics, and is a cofounder of PowerHub Systems. Through this startup experience, Jack has initiated problem based learning pilot programs enabled through interdisciplinary experiences, in engineering education and entrepreneurial training (e.g. The StartUp Class). Jack is also a Co-PI for the NSF I-Corps Mid Atlantic Regional Node (DC I-Corps) and is an instructor for both the National and Regional training programs guiding technical professionals through the Lean Startup approach. Jack serves on the Executive Board for the GEM National Consortium and on the Boards of Directors for The Commonwealth Center Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM) and the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Center.

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Abstract

Overview The need to improve mentoring experiences among engineering graduate students and transform a perceived unwelcoming culture of engineering colleges is widely accepted. In response to this need, the College of Engineering at a large, predominantly-white, research-intensive institution has started an initiative designed to address both of these needs.

This work-in-progress paper aims to discuss one part of this initiative: the development and implementation of a required mentee training seminar for newly matriculating graduate students in engineering degree programs. This one-credit course was designed to help first-year doctoral and master’s students (1) integrate into the university environment, (2) navigate the interpersonal relationships associated with graduate school, (3) prepare for professional success as a student and scholar, and (4) build awareness of diversity and inclusion values. We will discuss some of the early lessons learned from this effort.

Seminar Development Team A group of three engineering education faculty members is leading this effort, aided by financial and administrative leadership from the College of Engineering as well as an evidence-based curriculum developed by the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (CIMER), housed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. CIMER is comprised of researchers and practitioners who focus on improving research mentoring relationships among post-secondary researchers. By utilizing these resources, the engineering education faculty members constructed a professional development seminar which will be discussed in detail below.

Seminar Format and Student Learning Outcomes Seminars were offered to students in three different formats throughout the entire academic year: (1) 5-week course with 2.5 hours sessions once per week; (2) 2-day course with 6-hour sessions each day; and (3) an online version. Class sections in all formats included up to 72 students. Following successful completion of this course, students had strategies for: Developing effective interpersonal communication skills Establishing and maintaining professional relationships Dealing with personal differences in multicultural environments Advancing equity and inclusion in professional environments Developing responsible and ethical professional practices Developing identity, confidence, and independence as a professional

The focus of this paper is to report on our experiences and lessons learned from offering the 5-week course format for the first time. In this format, the course was discussion- and case-based where each session included short lectures to introduce the main ideas, 1-2 activities for students to engage with the content and ended with a debriefing discussion. The topics covered in each session were informed by the previously identified learning outcomes. The course coordinators sought to achieve alignment between intended student learning outcomes and the material covered in class in order to provide the most effective learning opportunities in the small course time frames. Each course offering covered the following: Topic 1. Building Your Professional Supports Topic 2. Managing Interpersonal Issues Topic 3. Navigating Personal Differences Topic 4. Responding to Pressures Topic 5. Exhibiting Professional Behaviors

Topic 1 involved aligning mentor and mentee expectations, forming a mentoring and support network, and prioritizing research mentor roles. Topic 2 covered barriers to effective communication and understanding constructive and destructive behaviors. Topic 3 explored setting the stage for inclusive discussions, challenges facing diverse teams, privilege and white fragility, and stereotype threat. Topic 4 covered addressing conflict, feeling overwhelmed, and mental health. Topic 5 closed with responding to feedback, ethics, and navigating sticky situations.

Assignments This seminar was offered on a pass/fail basis and students were evaluated based on mandatory attendance and the completion of an end-of-course assignment. In addition to the attendance, students were required to complete a Personal Development Plan as their end-of-course assignment, to be submitted no later than 2 weeks after the conclusion of the course.

The Personal Development Plan was broken into four sections each with two parts. For example, there was Section 1: Research and Learning which focused on developing identity, confidence, and independence as a researcher (LO6). Part A asked students to explore their current career goals, competencies needed to reach these goals, identify activities to acquire these skills, and an assessment plan to track progress. Part B instructed students to graduate school timeline depicting coursework, milestones, and professional activities required for graduation, in addition to outside commitments students expect to have during graduate school and strategies for finding balance across. Each remaining section mapped to one or more of the remaining learning outcomes.

Conclusion This work-in-progress paper will explore the course material and the first semester’s implementation of a new mentee training seminar for incoming engineering graduate students. We will provide details of pedagogical practices in the classroom, lessons learned, and any planned changes for future offerings.

Holloman, T. K., & Lee, W. C., & Davis, K. A., & London, J. S., & Knight, D. B., & Waller, T. O., & Lesko, J. J. (2021, January), Work in Progress: Preparing Graduate Students to Engage in Multicultural Environments Paper presented at 2021 CoNECD, Virtual - 1pm to 5pm Eastern Time Each Day . https://peer.asee.org/36146

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