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  1. Over the past decade, much attention has focused on change-making efforts, especially those funded by the NSF Revolutionizing Engineering Departments program. We bring together theory on agency and intersectional power to investigate a research question: • How and over what/whom do faculty engaged in departmental change efforts express agency, with attention to structural, cultural, normative, and interpersonal power relations? We draw upon recordings of faculty meetings and interviews across multiple change teams and years to characterize consequential change agency. Analysis of these highlights how accounts of contentious events reveals power dynamics at play, and ways those in power prevent or promote change. We argue that key elements of change agency include meeting others where they are, sharing agency with them (“we”), using potential control verbs (can, could, might, etc.), acknowledging their concerns, and inviting them into the effort in ways that suggest ownership.
  2. Despite being at the center of undergraduate engineering education, laboratory experiments have remained unchanged for decades, resulting in assignments lacking in opportunities for students to learn and grow. We used a survey to measure students’ sense of agency in prototypical design and laboratory courses at research universities. We found students in laboratory courses at both levels experienced significantly lower framing agency than their peers in senior design, and that even those engaged in authentic course-based research did not perceive the experiments as more agentive or authentic. We infer students drew upon abundant low-agency experiences in laboratory experiments; maximizing learning in laboratory courses may hinge on clearer communication about authentic experiments or systematic redesign of earlier courses
  3. In contrast to the dynamic treatment of other aspects of the curriculum, and despite being at the center of chemical engineering education, laboratory experiments have remained largely unchanged for decades. To characterize the potential impact changes to laboratory courses could have, we explored student perceptions across a department and characterized the kinds of opportunities students have to use their agency in these courses across universities. We used a survey to measure students’ sense of agency across several laboratory courses in a chemical engineering department. We found students in laboratory courses across the chemical engineering laboratory sequence, including those engaged in authentic course-based research did not perceive the experiments as agentive or authentic. We infer students draw upon abundant low-agency experiences in laboratory experiments. We report on the agency that instructors report students possessing across two chemical engineering departments to understand variation across institutions. Maximizing learning in laboratory courses may hinge on clearer communication about authentic experiments or systematic redesign of earlier courses.