This content will become publicly available on July 10, 2024
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- Proceedings of the 28th ACM Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education
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- National Science Foundation
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Biologically inspired design has become increasingly common in graduate and undergraduate engineering programs, consistent with an expanding emphasis by professional engineering societies on cross-disciplinary critical thinking skills and adaptive and sustainable design. However, bio-inspired engineering is less common in K-12 education. In 2019, the NSF funded a K-12 project entitled Biologically Inspired Design for Engineering Education (BIRDEE), to create socially relevant, accessible, and highly contextualized high school engineering curricula focusing on bio-inspired design. Studies have shown that women and underrepresented minorities are drawn to curricula, courses, and instructional strategies that are integrated, emphasize systems thinking, and facilitate connection building across courses or disciplines. The BIRDEE project also seeks to interest high school girls in engineering by providing curricula that incorporate humanistic, bio-inspired engineering with a focus on sustainable and authentic design contexts. BIRDEE curricula integrate bio-inspired design into the engineering design process by leveraging design tools that facilitate the application of biological concepts to design challenges. This provides a conceptual framework enabling students to systematically define a design problem, resulting in better, more well-rounded problem specifications. The professional development (PD) for the participating teachers include six-week-long summer internships in university research laboratories focused on biology and bio-inspired design. The goal of these internships is to improve engineering teachers’ knowledge of bio-inspired design by partnering with cutting-edge engineers and scientists to study animal features and behaviors and their applications to engineering design. However, due to COVID-19 and research lab closures in the summer of 2020, the research team had to transfer the summer PD experience to an online setting. An asynchronous, quasi-facilitated online course was developed and delivered to teachers over six weeks. In this paper, we will discuss online pedagogical approaches to experiential learning, teaching bio-inspired design concepts, and the integration of these approaches in the engineering design process. Central to the online PD design and function of each course was the use of inquiry, experiential and highly-collaborative learning strategies. Preliminary results show that teachers appreciated the aspects of the summer PD that included exploration, such as during the “Found Object” activity, and the process of building a prototype. These activities represented experiential learning opportunities where teachers were able to learn by doing. It was noted throughout the focus group discussions that such opportunities were appreciated by participating teachers. Teachers indicated that the experiential learning components of the PD allowed them to do something outside of their comfort zone, inspired them to do research that they would not have done outside of this experience, and allowed them to “be in the student's seat and get hands-on application”. By participating in these experiential learning opportunities, teachers were also able to better understand how the BIRDEE curriculum may impact students’ learning in their classroomsmore » « less
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Competency-based learning has been a successful pedagogical approach for centuries, but only recently has it gained traction within computing. Competencies, as defined in Computing Curricula 2020, comprise knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions. Building on recent developments in competency and computing education, this working group examined relevant pedagogical theories, investigates various skill frameworks, reviewed competencies and standard practices in other professional disciplines such as medicine and law. It also investigated the integrative nature of content knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions in defining professional competencies in computing education. In addition, the group explored appropriate pedagogies and competency assessment approaches. It also developed guidelines for evaluating student achievement against relevant professional competency frameworks and explores partnering with employers to offer students genuine professional experience. Finally, possible challenges and opportunities in moving from traditional knowledge-based to competency-based education were also examined. This report makes recommendations to inspire educators of future computing professionals and smooth students’ transition from academia to employment.more » « less
For many decades, educational communities, including computing education, have debated the value of telling students what they need to know (i.e., direct instruction) compared to guiding them to construct knowledge themselves (i.e., constructivism). Comparisons of these two instructional approaches have inconsistent results. Direct instruction can be more efficient for short-term performance but worse for retention and transfer. Constructivism can produce better retention and transfer, but this outcome is unreliable. To contribute to this debate, we propose a new theory to better explain these research results. Our theory, multiple conceptions theory, states that learners develop better conceptual knowledge when they are guided to compare multiple conceptions of a concept during instruction. To examine the validity of this theory, we used this lens to evaluate the literature for eight instructional techniques that guide learners to compare multiple conceptions, four from direct instruction (i.e., test-enhanced learning, erroneous examples, analogical reasoning, and refutation texts) and four from constructivism (i.e., productive failure, ambitious pedagogy, problem-based learning, and inquiry learning). We specifically searched for variations in the techniques that made them more or less successful, the mechanisms responsible, and how those mechanisms promote conceptual knowledge, which is critical for retention and transfer. To make the paper directly applicable to education, we propose instructional design principles based on the mechanisms that we identified. Moreover, we illustrate the theory by examining instructional techniques commonly used in computing education that compare multiple conceptions. Finally, we propose ways in which this theory can advance our instruction in computing and how computing education researchers can advance this general education theory.more » « less
Engineering education seeks to prepare students for engineering practice, but the concept of preparedness is often ill‐defined. Moreover, findings from studies of different populations or in different contexts vary regarding how well new graduates are prepared. These variations, coupled with the lack of clarity, suggest the need to better understand what it means to be prepared for engineering work.
This study contributes to research on workplace preparation by exploring how new graduates describe being prepared for engineering work.
Applying secondary analysis to data from the multi‐institution Capstone To Work (C2W) project, we used thematic analysis to explore new engineers' descriptions of preparedness. We analyzed written responses to structured questions about the school‐to‐work transition collected weekly during participants' first 12 weeks of work; 105 graduates drawn from four universities provided 956 responses, with a mean of 9 (out of 12 possible) responses per participant.
Participants' descriptions of preparedness included applying concrete skills, recognizing familiar situations, and having strategies for approaching challenging tasks even when they lacked relevant knowledge or skill.
Our findings suggest that although many discussions about workplace preparation implicitly focus narrowly on mastery of skills and knowledge, that focus may not fully capture new graduates' experiences, and may limit discussions about the ways in which school can (and cannot) prepare students for work. A more expansive understanding may better support both student learning and workplace onboarding, though more research is needed across stakeholders to establish shared understanding.