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Work in Progress: Understanding Student Successes, Challenges, and Perceptions of Community

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Student Learning and Success

Tagged Division

Biological and Agricultural Engineering

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Paper Authors


Deepak R. Keshwani University of Nebraska, Lincoln

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Dr. Deepak Keshwani is an associate professor of Biological Systems Engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition to research in the area of bioprocess and biosystems modeling, Dr. Keshwani is engaged in teaching and advising students across two academic colleges and is involved in numerous campus-wide student success initiatives including leading a civic-engagement program for first-year students.

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Jennifer Keshwani University of Nebraska, Lincoln

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Jenny Keshwani is an Assistant Professor of Biological Systems Engineering and Science Literacy Specialist in the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is active in promoting science and engineering education in both formal and informal settings through her research, extension, and outreach activities. Dr. Keshwani is actively engaged in several cross-disciplinary regional and national efforts related to STEM education and outreach. Most recently, she was part of a team that received NSF funding to engage youth in STEM through wearable technologies.

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The Biological Systems Engineering department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) has two undergraduate programs in engineering (agricultural engineering and biological systems engineering), and one undergraduate program in mechanized systems management which is an agricultural systems management/technology (ASMT) program. The overall goal of this study is to understand student perception of community in the context of the department’s academic programs, and identify strategies to build community among ASMT students to positively impact student retention and student success in team-based learning environments. Sophomores in the ASMT program enrolled in a required problem solving and technical communication course taught by the department during the Spring 2018 semester were the focus of this study. During the course of the semester, students were asked to complete short qualitative survey questions related to successes and challenges encountered as students, and their perceptions of community. Broadly defined questions were selected for this study to avoid biasing of responses. Institutional Review Board approval was obtained for the study. There were 25 students enrolled in the class and 16 students provided consent to be included in this study. The data analysis procedure followed is based on the model of thematic analysis which starts by identifying conceptual thematic codes through review of responses for each question. Results indicate that ASMT students have some similarities with their engineering counterparts, but place a stronger focus on relationships and building connections. Students valued the use of group projects as a way to build community and noted the importance of classroom management to build community.

Keshwani, D. R., & Keshwani, J. (2019, June), Work in Progress: Understanding Student Successes, Challenges, and Perceptions of Community Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33660

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