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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2023
  2. Supporting students to frame design problems is one of the most challenging aspects of engineering education, and as faculty, sharing agency with students, such that they have framing agency to make decisions that are consequential to the problem frame is difficult. In this paper, we report on students’ progress framing authentic problems early and after four months of work. Set in a high-agency, co-curricular intramural program where students work on interdisciplinary design projects, we found, using surveys and student work, that early in the process, students reported open-ended problems constrained somewhat by budget or design requirements. Over time, they came to recognize their own limitations as constraining, became more tentative in their treatment of the problem, and reported opportunities to learn from their own and peers’ decisions. Students who reported opportunities to learn also reported working on somewhat more constrained problems yet being able to make consequential decisions. Collectively, this suggests problems that offer a Goldilocks middle ground, that include endemic constraints yet allow students to make consequential decisions may be a key ingredient for developing problem framing capacity. We share instructional implications related to supporting students to differentiate between design requirements and constraints, in shifting from qualitative understandings tomore »quantitative requirements and their role in doing so, and navigating their own limitations.« less
  3. Design thinking emphasizes that in addition to being creative, design solutions should be empathetic. Yet, research suggests there may be a tension between these goals, where focusing on empathy comes at a cost to creativity, sometimes by inducing fixation. We investigated this phenomenon through a quasi-experimental design with novice designers, contrasting two structured ideation techniques in which participants (N = 47) generated bad ideas prior to proposing beneficial ideas. Specifically, they used the wrong theory protocol (WTP) to generate harmful and humiliating ideas, and a variant in which they instead generated silly and impossible ideas (SIP). We used qualitative analysis to characterize their bad and beneficial ideas. Across two realistic design challenges, we found students’ initial bad design work was shaped by the technique they used, and that those who generated humiliating ideas were more likely to generate empathetic beneficial ideas afterward. No systematic differences were found in the breadth of solution ideas, suggesting this technique does not come at a cost to creativity. As a quick and easy-to-use technique, generating humiliating ideas prior to generating beneficial ideas holds promise as a means to reach design solutions that are both empathetic and creative.
  4. While research suggests that community-engaged projects can be particularly effective, such work is notoriously time consuming and not scalable. The learning curve for an organization seeking to start such work is steep. Additionally, it is important to evaluate to what extent work typified as community engaged work actually creates a participatory space of communitycentered perspectives regarding roles, interests, worldviews, actions and outcomes. To this end, we developed a formative assessment tool using previously identified domains [1]. This tool, created in partnership between a university and an outreach group affiliated with the Air Force, allows organizations to evaluate existing projects and explore ways to develop on a path towards true community-engagement. The outreach group in this case undertakes significant STEM education within New Mexico, but in the past, a majority of the work has been done “for” or “to” communities, rather than “with” communities. We share development and initial use of the tool. By using the tool, several members made aspects of their work more explicit. Specifically, members shared ways they sought ideas, feedback, and insight from teachers, and how this informed their ongoing work. While the initial use of the tool revealed some uncertainty about community engagement, it opened spacemore »to value and expand existing practices aligned to community engagement. With increased use of the tool, members came to see some of their existing practices that were already aligned to community-engagement as more valued, and the individuals who led such work were positioned as contributing expertise, rather than anecdotes. Ongoing use of the tool, paired with leadership support, is driving the organization to change how they view community roles.« less
  5. For years, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) in New Mexico has led an outreach effort called Mission to Mars to engage fifth grade students in applying science and mathematics concepts related to building a colony on Mars. Many organizations across the US canceled similar events due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This design case details the original program and the pivot made to continue the program. We share successes—including reaching more rural learners—insights, and challenges, and how these have shaped a more inclusive vision for future programs.
  6. Many of us are working to create a more inclusive and socially just culture within engineering education and engineering. Despite significant effort, marginalization and discrimination continue, buoyed by systems of oppression. How can we disrupt and dismantle oppressive systems in engineering education? In our work, we explore how power and privilege are enacted within leadership teams that aim to create revolutionary changes within engineering departments. Based on this work, we developed the POWER protocol (Privilege and Oppression: Working for Equitable Recourse), a workshop that guides engineering educators to identify and understand the intersectional nature of power and privilege before planning strategies to disrupt, disarm, and dismantle it. In this paper, we present a design case to show how this workshop has evolved. We provide the POWER protocol in the appendix so that others can adapt this workshop for their own contexts. In the interactive session at CoNECD, we will take attendees through part of the POWER protocol (we will scope the workshop to fit in the time allotted; the full workshop is 1.5 hours) to examine how power, privilege, and intersectionality can help attendees frame their experiences and begin to understand how their everyday experiences may be influenced by systemicmore »oppression. To guide this process, we orient around the question: How can we become aware of power and privilege on collaborative academic teams in order to better affect social change and improve interdisciplinary and cross-identity/boundary interactions, communication, and inclusivity? We hope that through interactive sessions such as this that we can all become more persistent and sophisticated in our efforts to dismantle some of these forms of power and privilege within the university, especially those aspects that continue to oppress and oftentimes push marginalized people and perspectives out of academia. Our interactive approach will position attendees to bring this protocol back to their institutions and adapt it to their own contexts. In the tradition of the design case such as those published by the International Journal of Designs for Learning, we detail how our contexts and the literature informed the iterative development of the POWER protocol in this paper. We provide a vivid account of the POWER protocol and a facilitation guide that others can use and adapt in their own contexts. Using a narrative format, we share a forthright account of our development process. Design cases are valuable in highlighting distinctive aspects of how a design came to be; by sharing our design decisions along with the design, others may gain insight into both what has made our design successful, and where it may be brittle when used in new contexts. Finally, we describe how we will engage attendees in the CoNECD session.« less
  7. We (the facilitators) work as social scientists and engineering education researchers from different universities on the NSF-supported program, Revolutionizing Engineering Departments (RED) ( ). We began to notice how power and privilege were enacted on our teams, which consisted of diverse team members (e.g., diverse in disciplinary affiliation, role in the university, gender, race, LGBTQIA+ status). This motivated a research project and workshops/special sessions such as the one proposed here, where we explore how power and privilege are enacted within interdisciplinary teams so that we can begin to dismantle systemic oppressions within academia [1] , [2] . The POWER special session (Privilege and Oppression: Working for Equitable Recourse) was developed to guide engineering educators to identify and understand the intersectional nature of power and privilege before planning strategies to disrupt, disarm, and dismantle it.