2009 Teaching and Learning Symposium

2:30-4:30 p.m., April 21, 2009
HUB Ballroom

Session Description



Findings from the Center for the Advancement of Engineering Education

Cindy Atman (Center for the Advancement of Engineering Education)

The Center for the Advancement of Engineering Education (CAEE), funded by the National Science Foundation, has been conducting research since 2003 into undergraduate engineering learning, faculty teaching, and building capacity in engineering education research. The primary activity this past year was on the Academic Pathways Study (APS) and the Studies of Engineering Educator Decisions (SEED).

The APS is a longitudinal and cross-sectional study of engineering undergraduates that looks at the engineering undergraduate learning experience in order to provide a comprehensive account of how people become engineers. The APS collected data from 160 students on four CAEE campuses from their freshman to senior years. Data collection methods included surveys, structured interviews, ethnographic interviews, and performance tasks. The Academic Pathways of People Learning Engineering Survey (APPLES) was administered to over 4200 students at 21 US institutions in 2008. APS results are creating a rich portrait of the great variety of pathways into and through engineering education and are shedding light on issues of persistence, engagement, skill development, and gender differences associated with acquiring an engineering degree.

SEED seeks to enhance the effectiveness of strategies used to help educators improve their teaching. SEED data was gathered from 33 engineering faculty from various disciplines. Analysis of these data shows that faculty consider a range of factors, including time intervals and power differentials, when making teaching decisions. Faculty narratives about their process of committing to a decision were often emotional and driven by various rationales. They often felt bound to a specific action by constraints or other issues and sometimes knowingly accepted unsatisfactory decisions based on tradeoffs and issues beyond their control. Faculty also used a variety of terms when referring to engineering undergraduates that suggest the many different perspectives about students that faculty take into account when they design teaching and learning experiences.




Index of Symposium Presenters