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Title: Design and Development: NSF Engineering Research Centers Unite: Developing and Testing a Suite of Instruments to Enhance Overall Education Program Evaluation
National Science Foundation (NSF) funded Engineering Research Centers (ERC) must complement their technical research with various education and outreach opportunities to: 1) improve and promote engineering education, both within the center and to the local community; 2) encourage and include the underrepresented populations to participate in Engineering activities; and 3) advocate communication and collaboration between industry and academia. ERCs ought to perform an adequate evaluation of their educational and outreach programs to ensure that beneficial goals are met. Each ERC has complete autonomy in conducting and reporting such evaluation. Evaluation tools used by individual ERCs are quite similar, but each ERC has designed their evaluation processes in isolation, including evaluation tools such as survey instruments, interview protocols, focus group protocols, and/or observation protocols. These isolated efforts resulted in redundant resources spent and lacking outcome comparability across ERCs. Leaders from three different ERCs led and initiated a collaborative effort to address the above issue by building a suite of common evaluation instruments that all current and future ERCs can use. This leading group consists of education directors and external evaluators from all three partners ERCs and engineering education researchers, who have worked together for two years. The project intends to address the four ERC program clusters: Broadening Participation in Engineering, Centers and Networks, Engineering Education, and Engineering Workforce Development. The instruments developed will pay attention to culture of inclusion, outreach activities, mentoring experience, and sustained interest in engineering. The project will deliver best practices in education program evaluation, which will not only support existing ERCs, but will also serve as immediate tools for brand new ERCs and similar large-scale research centers. Expanding the research beyond TEEC and sharing the developed instruments with NSF as well as other ERCs will also promote and encourage continual cross-ERC collaboration and research. Further, the joint evaluation will increase the evaluation consistency across all ERC education programs. Embedded instrumental feedback loops will lead to continual improvement to ERC education performance and support the growth of an inclusive and innovative engineering workforce. Four major deliveries are planned. First, develop a common quantitative assessment instrument, named Multi-ERC Instrument Inventory (MERCII). Second, develop a set of qualitative instruments to complement MERCII. Third, create a web-based evaluation platform for MERCII. Fourth, update the NSF ERC education program evaluation best practice manual. These deliveries together will become part of and supplemented by an ERC evaluator toolbox. This project strives to significantly impact how ERCs evaluate their educational and outreach programs. Single ERC based studies lack the sample size to truly test the validity of any evaluation instruments or measures. A common suite of instruments across ERCs would provide an opportunity for a large scale assessment study. The online platform will further provide an easy-to-use tool for all ERCs to facilitate evaluation, share data, and reporting impacts.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
2023275
NSF-PAR ID:
10343960
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
American Society for Engineering Education
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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