skip to main content

Title: Problem Scoping in Designing Biomimetic Robots
We examine problem scoping in our interdisciplinary curriculum where students build biomimetic robots. Biomimicry is a context for learning biology, computational thinking, and engineering design. In the solution space, students narrow the scope of their robot designs, informed by animal structure-function relationships. In the challenge space, they narrow the scope of real-world disasters by modeling them in the classroom. This dual problem scoping enables students to be active participants shaping the content of their learning.
Authors:
; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
1742127
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10064799
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the International Conference of the Learning Sciences
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Background In the last decade, there has been a rapid increase in research on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to improve child and youth participation in daily life activities, which is a key rehabilitation outcome. However, existing reviews place variable focus on participation, are narrow in scope, and are restricted to select diagnoses, hindering interpretability regarding the existing scope of AI applications that target the participation of children and youth in a pediatric rehabilitation setting. Objective The aim of this scoping review is to examine how AI is integrated into pediatric rehabilitation interventions targeting the participation of children and youth with disabilities or other diagnosed health conditions in valued activities. Methods We conducted a comprehensive literature search using established Applied Health Sciences and Computer Science databases. Two independent researchers screened and selected the studies based on a systematic procedure. Inclusion criteria were as follows: participation was an explicit study aim or outcome or the targeted focus of the AI application; AI was applied as part of the provided and tested intervention; children or youth with a disability or other diagnosed health conditions were the focus of either the study or AI application or both; and the study was publishedmore »in English. Data were mapped according to the types of AI, the mode of delivery, the type of personalization, and whether the intervention addressed individual goal-setting. Results The literature search identified 3029 documents, of which 94 met the inclusion criteria. Most of the included studies used multiple applications of AI with the highest prevalence of robotics (72/94, 77%) and human-machine interaction (51/94, 54%). Regarding mode of delivery, most of the included studies described an intervention delivered in-person (84/94, 89%), and only 11% (10/94) were delivered remotely. Most interventions were tailored to groups of individuals (93/94, 99%). Only 1% (1/94) of interventions was tailored to patients’ individually reported participation needs, and only one intervention (1/94, 1%) described individual goal-setting as part of their therapy process or intervention planning. Conclusions There is an increasing amount of research on interventions using AI to target the participation of children and youth with disabilities or other diagnosed health conditions, supporting the potential of using AI in pediatric rehabilitation. On the basis of our results, 3 major gaps for further research and development were identified: a lack of remotely delivered participation-focused interventions using AI; a lack of individual goal-setting integrated in interventions; and a lack of interventions tailored to individually reported participation needs of children, youth, or families.« less
  2. Traditional engineering courses typically approach teaching and problem solving by focusing on the physical dimensions of those problems without consideration of dynamic social and ethical dimensions. As such, projects can fail to consider community questions and concerns, broader impacts upon society, or otherwise result in inequitable outcomes. And, despite the fact that students in engineering receive training on the Professional Code of Ethics for Engineers, to which they are expected to adhere in practice, many students are unable to recognize and analyze real-life ethical challenges as they arise. Indeed, research has found that students are typically less engaged with ethics—defined as the awareness and judgment of microethics and macroethics, sensitivity to diversity, and interest in promoting organizational ethical culture—at the end of their engineering studies than they were at the beginning. As such, many studies have focused on developing and improving the curriculum surrounding ethics through, for instance, exposing students to ethics case studies. However, such ethics courses often present a narrow and simplified view of ethics that students may struggle to integrate with their broader experience as engineers. Thus, there is a critical need to unpack the complexity of ethical behavior amongst engineering students in order to determine howmore »to better foster ethical judgment and behavior. Promoting ethical behavior among engineering students and developing a culture of ethical behavior within institutions have become goals of many engineering programs. Towards this goal, we present an overview of the current scholarship of engineering ethics and propose a theoretical framework of ethical behavior using a review of articles related to engineering ethics from 1990-2020. These articles were selected based upon their diversity of scope and methods until saturation was reached. A thematic analysis of articles was then performed using Nvivo. The review engages in theories across disciplines including philosophy, education and psychology. Preliminary results identify two major kinds of drivers of ethical behavior, namely individual level ethical behavior drivers (awareness of microethics, awareness of macroethics, implicit understanding, and explicit understanding) and institutional drivers (diversity and institutional ethical culture). In this paper, we present an overview and discussion of two drivers of ethical behavior at the individual level, namely awareness of microethics and awareness of macroethics, based on a review of 50 articles. Our results indicate that an awareness of both microethics and macroethics is essential in promoting ethical behavior amongst students. The review also points to a need to focus on increasing students’ awareness of macroethics. This research thus addresses the need, driven by existing scholarship, to identify a conceptual framework for explaining how ethical judgment and behavior in engineering can be further promoted.« less
  3. Background: Project management and other professional skill training is often lacking in graduate student education, typically as a result of limited resources, lack of faculty buy-in, and narrow focus on thesis research. To address this need and with support from NSF, we are developing the Graduates for Advancing Professional Skills (GAPS) program at Iowa State University. To aid the initial development of this program, we conducted a literature review to understand the current context of the development and implementation of professional skills in higher education curricula, with specific interest in STEM fields. Purpose: The purpose of our study was to identify best practices related to implementing professional development skills into an academic curriculum. The goal was to utilize this information in the development, planning, implementation, and assessment of our GAPS program. Design: We engaged in a systematic literature review. We focused on the curricular and pedagogical approaches to implementing these skills, results of the initiatives, and methodologies used to assess their effectiveness. Results: Our literature review uncovered the “messiness” of teaching and learning of skills such as project management. There is often not one approach or definition of project management – it may change based on scope of project andmore »context. Successful implementation requires adaptability, mentorship, problem solving, creativity, and communication. Additionally, project management has been referred to as a “threshold concept” and requires a certain level of intuition that cannot necessarily be gained through traditional classroom education. Conclusions: There appears to be an agreement on the importance of implementing project management skills at the postsecondary level. Our work illustrates the difficulty associated with undertaking this endeavor and provides guidance on approaches that can make these initiatives more beneficial. Although this literature was conducted to aid in the planning for our specific project, the synthesis of the extant works can inform other faculty and industry leaders who are interested in teaching and applying project management techniques in their courses or companies.« less
  4. The demands of engineering writing are much different from those of general writing, which students study from grade school through first-year composition. First, the content of engineering writing is both more specific and more complex [1]. As a second difference, not only do the types of audiences vary more in engineering but so does the audience’s level of knowledge about the content. Yet a third difference is that the expected level of precision in engineering writing is much higher [2]. Still a fourth difference is that the formats for engineering reports, which call for writing in sections and for incorporating illustrations and equations, are much more detailed than the double-space essays of first-year composition. Because many engineering students do not take a technical writing course until their junior or senior year, a gap exists between what undergraduates have learned to do in general writing courses and what those students are expected to produce in design courses and laboratory courses. While some engineering colleges such as the University of Michigan have bridged the gap with instruction about engineering writing in first-year design, a few such as the University of Wisconsin-Madison have done so with first-year English [4]. Still, a third groupmore »of schools such as Purdue have done so using an integration of these courses [5]. Unfortunately, many other engineering colleges have not bridged the gap in the first year. For instance, at Penn State, first-year design is not an option for teaching engineering writing because this course spans only one semester course and has no room for another major instructional topic. In addition, at this same institution, first-year composition is not an option because the English Department is adamant about having that course’s scope remain on general writing. Although a technical writing course in the junior or senior year should theoretically bridge the gap, not understanding the differences between general writing and engineering writing poses problems for engineering students who have yet taken technical writing. For instance, not understanding the organization of an engineering report can significantly pull down a report’s grade and lead students to assume that they are inherently weak at engineering writing [6]. Another problem is that engineering students who have not bridged the gap between general writing and engineering writing are at a disadvantage when writing emails and reports during a summer internship. To bridge this gap, we have created an online resource [7] that teaches students the essential differences between general writing and the writing done by engineers. At the heart of the resource are two web pages—one on writing reports and the other on writing professional emails. Each page consists of a series of short films that provide the essential differences between the two types of writing and a quiz to ensure comprehension of the films. In addition, students have links to model documents, while faculty have links to lesson plans. Using an NSF I-Corps approach [8], which is an educational version of how to build a start-up company [9], we have developed our web resource over the past six months. Specifically, we have tested value propositions through customer interviews of faculty and students in first-year courses in which the resource has been piloted. Using the results of those customer interviews, we have revised our two web pages. This paper presents the following highlights of this effort: (1) our customer discoveries about the gap between general writing and engineering writing, (2) the corresponding pivots that we made in the online resource to respond to those discoveries, and (3) the website usage statistics that show the effects of making those pivots« less
  5. The goal of Project STEMulate, a National Science Foundation ITEST study (DRL 1657625), was to develop, implement, and evaluate a program that fosters success in STEM for underserved and underrepresented high school students. The project was implemented at three sites of the Department of Education Upward Bound Program in Hawaiˋi. Project STEMulate delivered teacher training on Problem-Based Learning curriculum to ensure students were motivated and empowered, and to support STEM- related postsecondary educational success of Hawaiian and Pacific Islander students. A critical design goal of the program was to introduce teaching and learning strategies and processes that were more relevant to underrepresented youth populations than those offered in typical high schools to provide opportunities and to increase participation in the STEM study and career trajectory, something all too often out of mind and scope of these students. This study reports on three years of mixed methods summer academy data on both student and teacher learning outcomes. Teacher dispositions, evidenced through data from interviews, observations, and multi-point surveys improved in a majority of the dimensions, including teaching inquiry-based approaches, integrating technology, and STEM career knowledge and awareness. Student motivation, Science self-efficacy, and STEM career interest, evidenced from similar data sources, increasedmore »as well. Finally, we discuss the larger implications of extending this work to impact similar populations elsewhere of isolated, under- resourced and under-exposed youth with these proven strategies.« less