skip to main content

Search for: All records

Creators/Authors contains: "Gelles, Laura A."

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. Engineers are increasingly called on to develop sustainable solutions to complex problems. Within engineering, however, economic and environmental aspects of sustainability are often prioritized over social ones. This paper describes how efficiency and sustainability were conceptualized and interrelated by students in a newly developed second-year undergraduate engineering course, An Integrated Approach to Energy. This course took a sociotechnical approach and emphasized modern energy concepts (e.g., renewable energy), current issues (e.g., climate change), and local and personal contexts (e.g., connecting to students’ lived experiences). Analyses of student work and semi-structured interview data were used to explore how students conceptualized sustainability and efficiency. We found that in this cohort (n = 17) students often approached sustainability through a lens of efficiency, believing that if economic and environmental resources were prioritized and optimized, sustainability would be achieved. By exploring sustainability and efficiency together, we examined how dominant discourses that privilege technical over social aspects in engineering can be replicated within an energy context.
  2. The global pandemic of COVID-19 brought about the transition to Emergency Remote Teaching (ERT) at higher education institutions across the United States, prompting both students and the faculty to rapidly adjust to a different modality of teaching and learning. Other crises have induced disruptions to academic continuity (e.g., earthquakes, hurricanes), but not to the same extent as COVID-19, which has affected universities on a global scale. In this paper, we describe a qualitative case study where we interviewed 11 second-year Integrated Engineering students during the Spring 2020 semester to explore how they adapted to the transition to remote learning. Our results revealed several student challenges, how they used self-discipline strategies to overcome them, and how the faculty supported students in the classroom through a compassionate and flexible pedagogy. Faculty members showed compassion and flexibility by adjusting the curriculum and assessment and effectively communicating with students. This was especially important for the women participants in this study, who more frequently expressed utilizing pass/fail grading and the personal and gendered challenges they faced due to the pandemic. During this unprecedented crisis, we found that a key element for supporting students’ well-being and success is the faculty members communicating care and incorporating flexibilitymore »into their courses.« less
  3. What do engineering students in 2020 need to know about energy to be successful in the workplace and contribute to addressing society’s issues related to energy? Beginning with this question, we have designed a new course for second-year engineering students. Drawing on the interdisciplinary backgrounds of our diverse team of engineering instructors, we aimed to provide an introduction to energy for all engineering students that challenged the dominant discourse in engineering by valuing students’ lived experiences and bringing in examples situated in different cultural contexts. An Integrated Approach to Energy was offered for the first time in Spring 2020 for 18 students. In this paper, we describe the design of the course including learning objectives, content, and pedagogical approach. We assessed students’ learning using exams and the impact of the overall course using interviews. Students demonstrated achievement of the learning objectives in technical areas. In addition, interviews revealed that they learned about environmental, economic, and social aspects of engineering practice. We intend for this course to serve as a model of engineering as a sociotechnical endeavor by challenging students with scenarios that are technically demanding and require critical thinking about contextual implications.