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Work in Progress: Promoting Career Reflection Among Freshman BME Students

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Biomedical Division Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Emma Frow Arizona State University

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Emma Frow is an Assistant Professor at Arizona State University; she joined ASU in February 2015 with a joint appointment in the School of Biological & Health Systems Engineering and the School for the Future of Innovation in Society. She has graduate training in both the natural and social sciences, with a PhD in biochemistry and an MSc in science & technology studies. Emma is interested in the engineering imagination, particularly in the emerging field of synthetic biology. Over the past 6 years, her curricular and extracurricular teaching with engineers and scientists has been geared towards encouraging them to think about the broader social, ethical and political dimensions of their research and training.

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Michael R. Caplan Arizona State University

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Michael Caplan earned his undergraduate degrees from The University of Texas at Austin and his PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Following post-doctoral research at Duke University Medical Center in Cell Biology, Michael joined the faculty of Arizona State University in 2003, and he is now an Associate Professor in Biomedical Engineering.

Dr. Caplan’s research focuses on molecular cooperativity in drug targeting, bio-sensing, and cell signaling. Current projects align along three main themes: local drug delivery, endothelial dysfunction in diabetes, and cooperative DNA diagnostics. Recent awards include the Jeanette Wilkins Award for the best basic science paper at the Musculoskeletal Infection Society.

Dr. Caplan teaches several classes including Biotransport Phenomena, Biomedical Product Design and Development II (alpha prototyping of a blood glucose meter), and co-teaches Biomedical Capstone Design. Dr. Caplan also conducts educational research to assess the effectiveness of interactive learning strategies in large classes (~150 students).

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This Work-In-Progress seeks to integrate regular reflection into a first-semester “success” course for BME freshmen. Many colleges and universities are including “success” classes in the first semester of their curricula. In one such course, 14-week course with enrollment capped at a maximum of 19 students, our program has developed a course specifically for biomedical engineering (BME) students. This course is designed to make students aware of the variety of university resources available to them, introduce them to BME faculty and ongoing research in the department, and help students understand realistic career paths for BS, MS, and PhD degrees in BME.

Building on this structure, in our co-taught course, we are integrating two in-class surveys (first and last class days), two discussion-based class sessions, and a variety of short, written weekly homework assignments each designed to promote student reflection. Through these activities, students are encouraged to reflect on their choice of BME as a major, to articulate their career and personal goals, and to identify actions they can take while in college to help achieve their personal and professional aspirations.

By integrating regular reflection into the first semester of the BME experience, we hope to empower students to take ownership of their university educations, to deepen their understanding of what career opportunities are available to BME graduates, and to be pro-active in defining their career and personal aspirations. By comparing the students’ responses to the initial (first class) and final (last class) surveys, we seek to assess the impact these reflections have upon students’ understanding of BME career paths and upon their depth of thought about why they have chosen BME as their major (or switched to a different major). The final in-class survey will also be used to assess the value of individual reflective exercises to helping students in these two regards.

In this presentation, we seek to share our experiences and insights from embedding reflection activities into an existing entry-level BME success course. Any findings from our pilot year will also be used to: (1) inform future reflection activities in our freshman “success” courses, (2) share with BME faculty colleagues teaching other freshman “success” courses, and (3) contribute to our university’s participation in a national consortium to promote reflection in engineering education. In addition, we seek feedback from our colleagues on what learning objectives are most important in these BME-specific freshman “success” classes so that we can construct specific research studies to determine which reflections best foster attainment of those learning outcomes.

Frow, E., & Caplan, M. R. (2016, June), Work in Progress: Promoting Career Reflection Among Freshman BME Students Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27026

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