skip to main content

Title: A Rapid and Formative Response by the Engineering Education Faculty to Support the Engineering Faculty and Students Throughout the Extreme Classroom Changes Resulting from the COVID-19 Pandemic
This paper describes an evidence based-practice paper to a formative response to the engineering faculty and students’ needs at Anonymous University. Within two weeks, the pandemic forced the vast majority of the 1.5 million faculty and 20 million students nationwide to transition all courses from face-to-face to entirely online. Never in the history of higher education has there been a concerted effort to adapt so quickly and radically, nor have we had the technology to facilitate such a rapid and massive change. At Anonymous University, over 700 engineering educators were racing to transition their courses. Many of those faculty had never experienced online course preparation, much less taught one synchronously or asynchronously. Faculty development centers and technology specialists across the university made a great effort to aid educators in this transition. These educators had questions about the best practices for moving online, how their students were affected, and the best ways to engage their students. However, these faculty’s detailed questions were answerable only by faculty peers’ experience, students’ feedback, and advice from experts in relevant engineering education research-based practices. This paper describes rapid, continuous, and formative feedback provided by the Engineering Education Faculty Group (EEFG) to provide an immediate response more » for peer faculty guidance during the pandemic, creating a community of practice. The faculty membership spans multiple colleges in the university, including engineering, education, and liberal arts. The EEFG transitioned immediately to weekly meetings focused on the rapidly changing needs of their colleagues. Two surveys were generated rapidly by Hammond et al. to characterize student and faculty concerns and needs in March of 2020 and were distributed through various means and media. Survey 1 and 2 had 3381 and 1506 respondents respectively with most being students, with 113 faculty respondents in survey 1, the focus of this piece of work. The first survey was disseminated as aggregated data to the College of Engineering faculty with suggested modifications to course structures based on these findings. The EEFG continued to meet and collaborate during the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester and has continued through to this day. This group has acted as a hub for teaching innovation in remote online pedagogy and techniques, while also operating as a support structure for members of the group, aiding those members with training in teaching tools, discussion difficult current events, and various challenges they are facing in their professional teaching lives. While the aggregated data gathered from the surveys developed by Hammond et al. was useful beyond measure in the early weeks of the pandemic, little attention at the time was given to the responses of faculty to that survey. The focus of this work has been to characterize faculty perceptions at the beginning of the pandemic and compare those responses between engineering and non-engineering faculty respondents, while also comparing reported perceptions of pre- and post-transition to remote online teaching. Interviews were conducted between 4 members of the EEFG with the goal of characterizing some of the experiences they have had while being members of the group during the time of the pandemic utilizing Grounded theory qualitative analysis. « less
Authors:
; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
1911375
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10318500
Journal Name:
2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. This paper is based on a series of semi-structured, qualitative interviews that were conducted with students, by an undergraduate student and lead author of this paper, that focused on their experiences with educational technologies and online teaching pedagogy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. As U.S. educators scrambled to adapt to online course delivery modes as a result of the first wave of the pandemic in the spring 2020 semester, those in the educational technology and online learning community saw the potential of this movement to vastly accelerate the implementation of online systems in higher education. A shift thatmore »may have taken 20 years to accomplish was implemented in two waves, first with the immediate forced shift to online learning in March 2020; and second, a less immediate shift to hybrid and online instruction designed to accommodate the different geographic variation in COVID-19 intensity, along with varied political and institutional ecologies surrounding online versus in-person instruction for the 2020-2021 academic year. With all of the rapid changes that were occurring during the spring of 2020, we wanted to investigate how students experienced and perceived faculty use of technology during this particular moment in time. This study documents this transition through the eyes of undergraduate students, and demonstrates the varied ways in which faculty navigated the transition to online learning. According to our interviewees, some faculty were thoughtful and competent and provided a supportive environment that paid attention to a students’ capacity for online learning, rather than maintaining traditional instructional practices. Others relied on practices from in-person instruction that were familiar, but appeared to be nervous in the new online teaching environment. Then there were those who seemed occupied by other concerns, where a focus on effective undergraduate teaching remained limited to begin with, and their approach to online instruction was driven by convenience. Our qualitative data clearly reveals that the ways in which faculty conducted their online courses directly impacted student learning experiences. In this study, we set out to document both the faculty instructional strategies in a hybrid/online environment and student accounts of those choices and their resulting experiences. While we continue to analyze this unique data set on this moment of transition in engineering education, we hope that this paper will also lead to policy recommendations regarding faculty adaptations to online instruction in general. We include some initial thoughts and recommendations below.« less
  2. A substantial percentage of engineering graduates, especially those from traditionally underrepresented groups, complete their lower-division education at a community college before transferring to a university to earn their degree. However, engineering programs at many community colleges, because of their relatively small scale with often only one permanent faculty member, struggle to offer lower-division engineering courses with the breadth and frequency needed by students for effective and efficient transfer preparation. As a result, engineering education becomes impractical and at times inaccessible for many community college students. Through a grant from the National Science Foundation Improving Undergraduate STEM Education program (NSF IUSE),more »three community colleges from Northern California collaborated to increase the availability and accessibility of the engineering curriculum by developing resources and teaching strategies to enable small-to-medium sized community college engineering programs to support a comprehensive set of lower-division engineering courses. These resources were developed for use in a variety of delivery formats (e.g., fully online, online/hybrid, flipped face-to-face, etc.), providing flexibility for local community colleges to leverage according to their individual needs. This paper focuses on the development and testing of the resources for an introductory Materials Science course with 3-unit lecture and 1-unit laboratory components. Although most of the course resources were developed to allow online delivery if desired, the laboratory curriculum was designed to require some limited face-to-face interaction with traditional materials testing equipment. In addition to the resources themselves, the paper presents the results of the pilot implementation of the course during the Spring 2015 semester, taught using a flipped delivery format consisting of asynchronous remote viewing of lecture videos and face-to-face student-centered problem-solving and lab exercises. These same resources were then implemented in a flipped format by an instructor who had never previously taught the course, at a community college that did not have its own materials laboratory facilities. Site visits were arranged with a nearby community college to afford students an opportunity to complete certain lab activities using traditional materials testing equipment. In both implementations of the course, student surveys and interviews were used to determine students’ perceptions of the effectiveness of the course resources, student use of these resources, and overall satisfaction with the course. Additionally, student performance on assessments was compared with that of traditional lecture delivery of the courses in prior years.« less
  3. Given that undergraduate engineering students are becoming more involved in research and entrepreneurial activities that can lead to the generation of intellectual property (IP), this study investigates faculty attitudes related to IP policies and practices associated with educating and guiding undergraduate students. We surveyed a sample of 143 faculty members from both engineering and entrepreneurship education to examine: (a) the extent and nature of faculty involvement in undergraduate IP; (b) issues confronting faculty as they relate to undergraduate IP; (c) ways to catalyze undergraduate involvement in the generation of IP; (d) indicators of success; (e) future changes; and (f) bestmore »practices. We found that the majority of faculty members who were involved in undergraduate IP perceived that unclear policies, a lack of information, and unclear ownership of inventions were the most significant obstacles when guiding and teaching students. Furthermore, unwritten policies, biased ownership of information toward universities, lack of legal assistance for undergraduate students placed undergraduate students in a gray area where legal policies were not sufficient. Faculty who had previously guided students through the patent process reported greater concerns about teaching students the values and the principles of protecting intellectual property than those who did not. In terms of the role universities should play in enhancing undergraduate IP generation, most participants agreed that universities should educate students about IP protection (87%) and entrepreneurship (71%). The three most highly rated success indicators in educating undergraduate IP development were the increasing number of students involved in real world innovation and invention and entrepreneurial activities and enhancing student involvement with industry. When asked how universities could mitigate issues related to student IP, six themes emerged from participants’ open-ended responses, including: university taking no claim on student IP; early education and training about intellectual property issues; consulting assistance from TTO; creation of entrepreneurial culture or ecosystem; and access to low cost legal advice. Faculty members surveyed had strong views about where potential problems occur, and fewer recommendations on what resources should be provided. From the data, it is clear that there is still much to be accomplished to clarify the extent to which universities should be involved in managing undergraduate intellectual property. With further research and understanding, best practices for undergraduate IP generation can be applied to avoid further IP challenges for faculty, students, and academic institutions.« less
  4. Over the past two decades, educators have used computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) to integrate technology with pedagogy to improve student engagement and learning outcomes. Researchers have also explored the diverse affordances of CSCL, its contributions to engineering instruction, and its effectiveness in K-12 STEM education. However, the question of how students use CSCL resources in undergraduate engineering classrooms remains largely unexplored. This study examines the affordances of a CSCL environment utilized in a sophomore dynamics course with particular attention given to the undergraduate engineering students’ use of various CSCL resources. The resources include a course lecturebook, instructor office hours, amore »teaching assistant help room, online discussion board, peer collaboration, and demonstration videos. This qualitative study uses semi-structured interview data collected from nine mechanical engineering students (four women and five men) who were enrolled in a dynamics course at a large public research university in Eastern Canada. The interviews focused on the individual student’s perceptions of the school, faculty, students, engineering courses, and implemented CSCL learning environment. The thematic analysis was conducted to analyze the transcribed interviews using a qualitative data analysis software (Nvivo). The analysis followed a six step process: (1) reading interview transcripts multiple times and preliminary in vivo codes; (2) conducting open coding by coding interesting or salient features of the data; (3) collecting codes and searching for themes; (4) reviewing themes and creating a thematic map; (5) finalizing themes and their definitions; and (6) compiling findings. This study found that the students’ use of CSCL resources varied depending on the students’ personal preferences, as well as their perceptions of the given resource’s value and its potential to enhance their learning. For example, the dynamics lecturebook, which had been redesigned to encourage problem solving and note-taking, fostered student collaborative problem solving with their peers. In contrast, the professor’s example video solutions had much more of an influence on students’ independent problem-solving processes. The least frequently used resource was the course’s online discussion forum, which could be used as a means of communication. The findings reveal how computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) environments enable engineering students to engage in multiple learning opportunities with diverse and flexible resources to both address and to clarify their personal learning needs. This study strongly recommends engineering instructors adapt a CSCL environment for implementation in their own unique classroom context.« less
  5. To meet the rising demand for computer science (CS) courses, K-12 educators need to be prepared to teach introductory concepts and skills in courses such as Computer Science Principles (CSP), which takes a breadth-first approach to CS and includes topics beyond programming such as data, impacts of computing, and networks. Educators are now also being asked to teach more advanced concepts in courses such as the College Board's Advanced Placement Computer Science A (CSA) course, which focuses on advanced programming using Java and includes topics such as objects, inheritance, arrays, and recursion. Traditional CSA curricula have not used content ormore »pedagogy designed to engage a broad range of learners and support their success. Unlike CSP, which is attracting more underrepresented students to computing as it was designed, CSA continues to enroll mostly male, white, and Asian students [College Board 2019, Ericson 2020, Sax 2020]. In order to expand CS education opportunities, it is crucial that students have an engaging experience in CSA similar to CSP. Well-designed differentiated professional development (PD) that focuses on content and pedagogy is necessary to meet individual teacher needs, to successfully build teacher skills and confidence to teach CSA, and to improve engagement with students [Darling-Hammond 2017]. It is critical that as more CS opportunities and courses are developed, teachers remain engaged with their own learning in order to build their content knowledge and refine their teaching practice [CSTA 2020]. CSAwesome, developed and piloted in 2019, offers a College Board endorsed AP CSA curriculum and PD focused on supporting the transition of teachers and students from CSP to CSA. This poster presents preliminary findings aimed at exploring the supports and challenges new-to-CSA high school level educators face when transitioning from teaching an introductory, breadth-first course such as CSP to teaching the more challenging, programming-focused CSA course. Five teachers who completed the online CSAwesome summer 2020 PD completed interviews in spring 2021. The project employed an inductive coding scheme to analyze interview transcriptions and qualitative notes from teachers about their experiences learning, teaching, and implementing CSP and CSA curricula. Initial findings suggest that teachers’ experience in the CSAwesome PD may improve their confidence in teaching CSA, ability to effectively use inclusive teaching practices, ability to empathize with their students, problem-solving skills, and motivation to persist when faced with challenges and difficulties. Teachers noted how the CSAwesome PD provided them with a student perspective and increased feelings of empathy. Participants spoke about the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on their own learning, student learning, and teaching style. Teachers enter the PD with many different backgrounds, CS experience levels, and strengths, however, new-to-CSA teachers require further PD on content and pedagogy to transition between CSP and CSA. Initial results suggest that the CSAwesome PD may have an impact on long-term teacher development as new-to-CSA teachers who participated indicated a positive impact on their teaching practices, ideologies, and pedagogies.« less