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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 13, 2024
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 28, 2024
  3. Abstract Background

    The COVID‐19 pandemic has highlighted, exacerbated, and caused many challenges within engineering education. At the same time, the pandemic provided opportunities for engineering educators to learn from forced change to promote strategic efforts to improve classroom engagement and connection to better support engineering students.

    Purpose

    We leveraged students' stories to discuss ways university administrators, faculty, and instructors can better support their students during times of global crisis and beyond the current pandemic.

    Design/Method

    We conducted longitudinal narrative interviews with four White women engineering students from different universities in their third and fourth years. The students were selected from a larger research project because their rich and reflective stories resonated with other participant narratives, the research team, and ongoing conversations about educating during and after the COVID‐19 pandemic. Through narrative inquiry, we constructed “restoryed” vignettes and identified patterns within the four students' distinctive stories by drawing on a theoretical framework designed to examine connection and alienation.

    Results

    The findings provided insights into how students were stressed and disconnected from their education in undesirable ways. The findings also provide insight into how those same students received support and maintained a connection to their institution, advisors, and instructors that educators could emulate.

    Conclusions

    Our theoretical framework of connection and alienation proved helpful for understanding the experiences of four engineering students. Additionally, these stories provide practical examples of how faculty and staff can support student connections beyond the pandemic.

     
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  4. null (Ed.)
  5. 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. 
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