June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
24.1404.1 - 24.1404.16
Workshops on Fundamental Engineering Skills: A Graduate Student-Led Teaching InitiativeUnlike graduate student teaching in the humanities, which often requires complete synthesis andownership of an entire course, teaching opportunities in science and engineering graduate studiesgenerally involve running pre-developed lab sections and discussions. These teachingassignments are generally straightforward, enabling graduate students to primarily focus on theirdissertation research, but they do not promote the curriculum development skills required formost faculty positions. To gain these skills, graduate students can seek outreach opportunitiesthat are generally limited to K-12 education. There are rarely avenues for undergraduatecurriculum development. Thus, there is an impetus for graduate student teaching initiatives thatprovide opportunities for curriculum development and supplemental instruction experience. Introductory engineering courses often teach important computer-based skills includingprogramming, data visualization, and computational analysis. While first-year students areexpected to develop these skills and use them in upper-level courses, there are a number offactors that may hinder this progression. For example, students may not fully appreciate therelevance of certain skills at the time they are introduced, or they may forget these skills by thetime they encounter their application. Furthermore, students transferring into a program fromanother institution may not have had the necessary instruction at all. These situations can leavestudents feeling unprepared in the classroom and for their future careers. Introducingsupplemental instruction to mitigate these apparent needs presents an excellent opportunity forgraduate students to gain important curriculum development and implementation experiencewhile making a positive impact on the undergraduate community.In this paper we discuss our graduate student-led teaching initiative that focuses on teachingundergraduates “fundamental engineering skills”. By first consulting with academic advisorsabout perceived needs within the College of Engineering, we have determined a list of tools onwhich to focus our efforts. Leveraging the enthusiasm and expertise of graduate studentsinterested in teaching, we have developed a workshop series to address these undergraduateneeds while also providing graduate students with the opportunity to suggest, develop andimplement curricula in an interactive computer environment. Graduate students can propose newworkshops via a written proposal and review process, and required practice teaching-sessionshelp ensure quality instruction. We use surveys to evaluate workshop content and instruction,and have instructors report results at biweekly meetings to promote reflection by the instructorand to encourage best practices as a group. To date, we have held workshop series on MATLAB,Mathematica and Excel, covering in part: introductory programming, ordinary differentialequations, analytical equation solving, plotting, and macros. While formal evaluation is ongoing,promising feedback from preliminary surveys and focus groups suggests our workshop series ishaving a positive influence on both the undergraduate and graduate engineering community.
Foley, J. M., & Verhoff, A. M., & Pitre, J. J., & Ropella, K. M. (2014, June), Workshops on Fundamental Engineering Skills: A Graduate Student-Led Teaching Initiative Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--22794
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