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  1. This work-in-progress paper examines four free online courses addressing LGBTQ+ topics and issues and provides recommendations for creating new content and resources for allies in higher education. This exploratory work is guided by the following questions: What free LGBTQ+ courses are available for learners and educators? What content do these courses cover? What are the overlaps among these courses and what new strategies could be adopted when developing new LGBTQ+ resources for people in academia? The scope of this paper explores the content and instructional strategies of courses offered on Coursera, a massive open online course (MOOC) platform. Our preliminary findings indicate that the courses offer many insights and strategies for becoming an ally, fostering inclusive environments, and showing up for LGBTQ+ students; however, they put a smaller emphasis on LGBTQ+ academics and their experiences. Based on these findings, recommendations for educators and course developers are suggested. 
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  2. null (Ed.)
    Solving open-ended complex problems is an essential skill for part of being an engineer and a common activity in the one of the qualities needed in an engineering workplace. In order to help undergraduate engineering students develop such qualities and better prepare them for their future careers, this study is a preliminary effort to explore the problem solving approaches adopted by a student, faculty, and practicing engineer in civil engineering. As part of an ongoing NSF-funded study, this paper qualitatively investigates how three participants solve the following research question: What are the similarities and differences between a student, faculty, and practicing engineer in the approach to solve an ill-structured engineering problem? Verbal protocol analysis was used to answer this research question. Participants were asked to verbalize their response while they worked on the proposed problem. This paper includes a detailed analysis of the observed problem-solving processes of the participants. Our preliminary findings indicate some distinct differences between the student, professor, and practicing engineer in their problem-solving approaches. The student and practicing engineer used their prior knowledge to develop a solution, while the faculty did not make any connection to outside knowledge. It was also observed that the faculty and practicing engineer spent a great deal of time on feasibility and safety issues, whereas the student spent more time detailing the tool that would be used as their solution. Through additional data collection and analysis, we will better understand the similarities and differences between students, professionals, and faculty in terms of how they approach an ill-structured problem. This study will provide insights that will lead to the development of ways to better prepare engineering students to solve complex problems. 
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  3. One of the main skills of engineers is to be able to solve problems. It is generally recognized that real-world engineering problems are inherently ill-structured in that they are complex, defined by non-engineering constraints, are missing information, and contain conflicting information. Therefore, it is very important to prepare future engineering students to be able to anticipate the occurrence of such problems, and to be prepared to solve them. However, most courses are taught by academic professors and lecturers whose focus is on didactic teaching of fundamental principles and code-based design approaches leading to predetermined “right” answers. Most classroom-taught methods to solve well-structured problems and the methods needed to solve ill-structured problems are strikingly different. The focus of our current effort is to compare and contrast the problem solving approaches employed by students, academics and practicing professionals in an attempt to determine if students are developing the necessary skills to tackle ill-structured problems. To accomplish this, an ill-structured problem is developed, which will later be used to determine, based on analysis of oral and written responses of participants in semi-structured interviews, attributes of the gap between student, faculty, and professional approaches to ill-structured problem solving. Based on the results of this analysis, we will identify what pedagogical approaches may limit and help students’ abilities to develop fully-formed solutions to ill-structured problems. This project is currently ongoing. This work-in-progress paper will present the study and proposed methods. Based on feedback obtained at the conference from the broader research community, the studies will be refined. The current phase includes three parts, (1) problem formulation; (2) protocol development; and (3) pilot study. For (1), two different ill-structured problems were developed in the Civil Engineering domain. The problem difficulty assessment method was used to determine the appropriateness of each problem developed for this study. For (2), a protocol was developed in which participants will be asked to first solve a simple problem to become familiar with the interview format, then are given 30 minutes to solve the provided ill-structured problem, following a semi-structured interview format. Participants will be encouraged to speak out loud and also write down what they are thinking and their thought processes throughout the interview period. Both (1) and (2) will next be used for (3) the pilot study. The pilot study will include interviewing three students, three faculty members and three professional engineers. Each participant will complete both problems following the same protocol developed. Post-interview discussion will be held with the pilot study participants individually to inquire if there were any portions of the tasks that are unclearly worded or could be improved to clarify what was being asked. Based on these results the final problem will be chosen and refined. 
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