P: Poster Abstracts

TITLE: Using Discourse to Enhance Student Understanding of Physical Chemistry

PRESENTERS: Renee Cole, University of Iowa; Marcy Towns, Purdue University; Nicole Becker, Purdue University

In chemistry classrooms mathematical equations and symbols are commonly used to describe theoretical constructs and experimental observations, but few studies have investigated student understanding of such equations or the connections between the classroom environment and student understanding of theoretical constructs. The abstract and conceptual content of equations is frequently very high, and understanding the connection between mathematical inscriptions and the physical macroscopic or particulate level knowledge they convey about a system is at the heart of  physical chemistry. For some students it seems that the symbols used to convey relationships are devoid of any physical meaning. This development of meaning does not occur as a result of students’  isolated interactions with the chemical and mathematical content alone. Rather, students’ learning experiences are characterized by the interactions between the students, the instructor, and the content, in an environment typified by the dynamic relationship between instructor and students as they interact with and relate to each other over time.

Discourse in the science classroom has been highlighted as an important way that students develop an understanding of scientific concepts including equations and the meanings they are intended to  represent (Osborne, 2010). The development of methods for analyzing student interactions and construction of knowledge and the increased adoption of active learning strategies to teach physical  chemistry provide a unique opportunity to investigate how students develop understanding of mathematical equations and fundamental concepts in physical chemistry and the roles of curricular material and instructor actions on student conceptual growth. A relatively recent emphasis of mathematics and science education research focuses on how communities of learners establish ideas (e.g. Rasmussen, Zandieh, & Wawro, 2009). One issue of theoretical and pragmatic concern that has emerged from this work is the documentation of the normative or collective ways of reasoning that develop as learners engage in mathematical or scientific problem solving and discussion. What can be learned about how students develop meaning for mathematical symbols in physical chemistry? How does instructor discourse, as she or he interacts with students in the classroom, foster or hinder learning? In what ways can students’ explanations as they interact with the content, with each other, and with the instructor be described?

Active learning environments typically include student inquiry into challenging problems involving explaining and presenting one’s own reasoning, as well as attending to, questioning, and commenting on the reasoning of others. Such classrooms allow researchers to trace the growth of ideas as they are initiated and constituted via classroom discussion. Toulmin analysis provides a mechanism for documenting the collective production of meaning and provides an empirical basis for examining the quality of classroom discourse and for reflecting on instructional design and instructor facilitation (Rasmussen & Stephan, 2008; Cole et al, 2011). Research in this area can inform the STEM community regarding strategies for implementing active learning strategies in the classroom, designing instructional materials to promote student discourse and understanding, and the development of a classroom (and instructional) culture that supports student reasoning.

Integrating information from different levels of representations has been highlighted as a key challenge to students’ understandings of chemistry (eg. Gilbert and Treagust, 2009). Quite a few studies have looked at individual student understanding of the chemistry triplet (macro, micro, symbolic representations), especially the particulate nature of matter. Though much research has examined individual student understanding of one particular representational level or another, little research has looking at how these types of representations contribute to student reasoning in a discourse-oriented classroom setting. In this work, Toulmin analysis has been used to code argumentations that occurred during a five-week portion of a physical chemistry class focusing on thermodynamics. Across the data, a key feature of argumentations in both whole class and small group discussions is the use of multiple types of evidence to make claims about chemistry, including evidence related to particulate, symbolic, and experimental evidence. Analysis of the transcripts provides evidence of the emergence of classroom social norms to provide reasoning for explanations and for sociochemical norms that a component of reasoning about new topics include a particulate level explanation.

The insights gained from this work have implications for how instructors can help scaffold student reasoning and use of particulate level information in classroom settings. These insights are not restricted to the teaching of physical chemistry and have the potential to impact STEM classrooms in college classrooms at many institutions. The long term goals of STEM instruction should be to have students actively engaged in scientific discourse to support improved understanding of scientific concepts and development of skills vital to engaging in science.

Renee Cole, Nicole Becker, Marcy Towns, George Sweeney, Megan Wawro, and Chris Rasmussen, "Adapting a Methodology from Mathematics Education Research to Chemistry Education Research: Documenting Collective Activity", International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education (2011) online first. (http://www.springerlink.com/content/m37642217677168m/)

Gilbert, John K.; Treagust, David (Eds.) Multiple representations in chemical education 2009 Springer.

Osborne, J. (2010). Arguing to learn in science: The role of collaborative, critical discourse. Science, 328(5977), 463-466.

Rasmussen, C., & Stephan, M. (2008). A methodology for documenting collective activity. In A. E. Kelly, R. A. Lesh & J. Y. Baek (Eds.), Handbook of innovative design research in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) education (pp. 195 -215). New York: Taylor and Francis.

Rasmussen, C., Zandieh, M., & Wawro, M. (2009). How do you know which way the arrows go? The emergence and brokering of a classroom mathematics practice. In W.-M. Roth (Ed.), Mathematical representation at the interface of body and culture (pp. 171-218). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.


TITLE: Accessible STEM Education for Inclusive Outcomes

PRESENTER: Bridget Miller, Purdue University

This presentation addresses instructional supports for STEM education, and how it can align with policy in special education to provide opportunities in STEM for individuals with disabilities. With the  passing of No Child Left Behind (NCLB, 2002), and the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEIA, 2004) to align with NCLB, teachers are now required by these federal mandates to  provide individuals with disabilities “access to the general curriculum to the maximum extent possible” (p.5), this includes the areas of STEM. Beyond just access to the general curriculum, NCLB requires  that all school districts report all students’ progress in reading, science, and mathematics (NCLB, 2002). For students with significant cognitive disabilities who are unable to take part in state assessments with accommodations, states are still required to provide alternative assessments that assess individual performance goals (Spooner, et al., 2011). This makes the call for evidence-based practices for accessible instruction for STEM related areas for students with disabilities even more prevalent. Although the term “all” is used in many of these laws and agendas, what is really meant and what is really being done to support “all” learners? This presentation addresses the agenda titled,” The case being bold: A new agenda for business for improving STEM education,” (Hess, Kelly, Meeks, 2011) and how it aligns with the aims of the National Education Technology Plan (NETP) 2010 (U.S. Department of Education, 2011), and organizational objectives such as The American Association for Advancement of Science’s Project 2061: Science for all Americans (1985), and The National Research Council (NRC) National Science Education Standards (1996) call for science education for all students, including those with disabilities.

Currently in the field of special education most students with moderate to severe intellectual disabilities are placed in a functional curriculum (Evans & Fredricks, 1991). The aim of a functional curriculum is to teach students the necessary skill sets that will benefit them most post high school; this consists of life skills in the domains of community, domestic, leisure, and vocational settings (Evans & Fredricks, 1991). With a focus on functional life skills such as basic hygiene skills, and other domestic skills, this leaves a void in the instruction of STEM. For students with both cognitive and physical disabilities barriers exist in providing access and success in the STEM related fields (Collins, Hager, & Galloway, 2011). For students with more severe physical disabilities, programs such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Entry Point program have found success in supporting students with physical disabilities in overcoming barriers in STEM related areas. Entry Point, as one example, has introduced a NASA lead engineer, Mr. Marco Midon, who is fully blind, along with other individuals with physical disabilities as leaders in STEM related fields (Woods, Stern, & Malcom, 2010). Mr. Midon uses Job Access With Speech (JAWS), a computer screen reader by Freedom Scientific, to carry on his daily work (AAAS, 2002). Midon is an extraordinary example of an individual who is able to benefit from assistive technologies (AT) and succeed in the field of science. Without integration of technology supports these individuals may not have been able to over come barriers and had the opportunities to make the contributions to their fields in the ways that they have. Midon is an individual who was provided access to overcome a physical barrier with technology supports.

What can we ask of technology in providing supports and access for students with cognitive disabilities? This presentation discusses integration of current technology into education for supporting learning for students with special needs, and the research to establish evidence-based practices to help all students “improve student learning, accelerate and scale up the adoption of effective practices, and use data and information for continuous improvement,” as stated by the NETP 2010. Funding for assistive technology (AT) and supports is often one of the barriers for students in obtaining needed resources (Kemp, Hourcade, & Parette, 2000).

This presentation highlights the value of utilizing commercially available technology such as iPads, and Netbooks for delivering instructional supports (Cihak, Kessler & Alberto, 2008). Unlike expensive personalized assistive technology devices commonly used in special education, commercially available devices such as netbook computers, PDAs, iPods, iPads, and laptops are mass-produced,  resulting in lower costs to the consumers (Cihak, Kessler, & Alberto 2008). Universal design is becoming more common in general technology, making it both functional and accessible to individuals with disabilities. Use of these commercial devices such as iPods and netbooks have been successful in initial acquisition, performance, transition, and maintenance of skills in the functional curriculum (Van Laarhoven et al., 2009;Cihak, Fahrenkrog, Ayers, & Smith, 2010; Niopoulos & Keenan, 2007) for students with moderate intellectual disabilities. AT should also be considered to support students in STEM (Maroney et al., 2003), however the current literature lacks evidence –based practices to support effective AT supports and instructional practices for students with moderate to severe disabilities in content areas (Jimenez, Browder, & Courtade, 2010; Knight, et al., 2010; Spooner et al., 2011).

The aim of this presentation is to share the current research-taking place, by briefly discussing two studies, currently in the phase of data collection under two Purdue University Faculty, and share ideas for instructional supports for others to implement into their programs to provide opportunities for students with disabilities, who face both physical and cognitive barriers. STEM instruction for students with moderate to severe intellectual disabilities in special education is limited for several factors. Courtade et al., (2007) suggest that it is a result of:

  1. low expectations for the given population;
  2. lack of instructional strategies for teaching this population; and
  3. lack of models for adapting this type of content for this population.

The aim of this presentation is to help address some of these barriers in the field for providing opportunities in STEM and continue the conversation on how to surpass them.


TITLE: Integrating Graduate Students and their Research into K-12 Classrooms: From Well-Funded Innovation to Affordable Implementation

PRESENTERS: Faith Weeks, Purdue University; Amy Childress, Purdue University; Jon Harbor, Purdue University; Cyndi Lynch, Purdue University

The National Science Foundation has supported GK12 programs at over 200 colleges and universities since 1999, and the research literature shows that these programs have major positive impacts on graduate students, K-12 teachers and students. This includes enhanced communication skills and pedagogical knowledge for graduate students, and increased interest, role models and curricular materials for teachers and their students. However, to truly transform a campus for all graduate students, it is necessary to transition from an externally-funded, STEM-focused program to one that uses modest institutional resources and that is open to all graduate students. At Purdue University, we are implementing the GK-12 model through the Graduate School’s Preparing Future faculty and Preparing Future Professionals programs to provide graduate students from across campus with a service-learning opportunity that connects their research to K-12 teaching. Analysis of participation and participant narratives over the past 3 semesters indicates that this locally-sustainable program is achieving many of the same outcomes as the NSF-funded program on which it was based, and is expanding to  include graduate students from non-STEM fields. Institutional resources invested include one graduate fellowship to staff the program, and a small number of service learning grants. Other universities and colleges, including those that have had one of the many successful NSF-funded GK-12 program in the past, may choose to adopt and adapt this approach as part of efforts to transform graduate education in ways that enhance student’s skills and experience in communication, education, and engagement.


TITLE: Literacy through Trilingual and Environmental Education

PRESENTER: Maria Cristina Buitrago de Mai, Fulbright Colombia

In most German schools in Latin America children learn to read and write in German during their first and second grades with English being added during the third grade. The question was how to begin the reading and writing process in a second and third language without negatively affecting the development of the children in their native language and their thinking processes. The purpose of this study was to create a systematic neuro-linguistic methodology to be used with first and second grade children in order to provide them with the tools needed for learning a second or more languages in the future.

The hypothesis I made was: Children who first establish literacy in their native language by reading and writing for at least four months will then be able to acquire a second language more easily by  integrating auditive, visual and motor skills in an interactive experience in an environment that incorporates natural elements. A possible solution according to the hypothesis was: To develop a systematic method for bilingual literacy a with neuro-linguistic, constructivist, social cultural and environmental focus which begins by developing reading and writing in the mother tongue. This included creating multisensory learning experiences which interacted with the natural environment to be used in artistic, written and oral expression.

Teachers were trained in the use of the new methods, formative evaluation and team teaching approaches. My expectation was that within six to seven months we would begin to see the impact of the methodology. Testing was done using one hundred and fifty first grade children in 2009 -2010 and in second grade with the same group from 2010 - 2011 from the German School in Bogotá Colombia. The children were in six different classes with 3 different teachers all trained to use the new method each teaching two classes.

During the first year using this method the results demonstrated that after four months of Spanish literacy the children were able to begin reading and writing in German across all the groups in the grade level with little difficulty as was reflected in their grades. The objectives for the grade level for reading both in Spanish and German were completed by the end of the school year. Only two students, one with family problems and another with noted development problems, showed difficulties in reading and writing at the end of first grade. In both cases the students showed marked improvement by the beginning of second grade.

When the reading and writing process was evaluated at the end of the second year the results showed an important impact in their second language the students were able to present written projects in both Spanish and German. One interesting observation was that the incorporation of nature and ecology into the process allowed the children to develop a positive attitude concerning the artistic and literary aspects of language. Another observation was that the role of the parents in encouraging their children to complete the research into ecology and nature greatly increased the interest in children in learning the topic. The students used the internet to research and develop topic as well.

From this experience we learned that cultural diversity can be intergraded into topic goals in order to succeed in bilingual communities. My thoughts about the results of this study compared to other relevant theories showed that focusing in topics that generate interest in children, their reading and writing process can be meaningful, and when using to a second language they will maintain their interest in the topics and lose their awareness of the language itself.

Wood, D., Bruner, J., & Ross, G. (1976). The role of tutoring in problem solving. Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, 17, 89-100

Mattingly, C., Lutkehaus, N. C. & Throop, C. J. (2008). Bruner's Search for Meaning: A Conversation between Psychology and Anthropology. Ethos, 36, 1-28

van der Veer, R. & Yasnitsky, A. (2011). Vvgotsky in English: What Still Needs to Be Done Cultura escrita y educacion/ Written culture and education, Fondo de Cultura Economica USA; 1 edition (December 31, 2007)

Center for Children and Families, The University of Texas at Dallas Bilingual Education in the 21st Century: A Global Perspective, Wiley Blackwell 2008


TITLE: A Transmedia Model for Scholarly Publication and Collaboration

PRESENTERS: Sorin Adam Matei, Purdue University

The presentation will introduce a map-based digital data curation, collaboration, publishing tool suite that unites print, location aware (mobile),and desktop/online publishing. The platform allows graduate and undergraduate students to interact with each other and with the instructors. The platform can also be used for coordinating collaboration among researchers and for disseminating their findings to the public. A distinguishing feature of the project is the 2D enhanced books, which create analog (paper) interfaces for Internet resources. An example of such a book is Virtual Sociability, published by the author via Ubimark and Amazon.com (http://matei.org/url/17s). The platform was deployed via several projects, including Visible Past (http://visiblepast.net), Ubimark (http://ubimark.ncom) and World Listening Network (http://ubimark.info). The platform aims to make teaching, scholarly data collection, management and publishing flexible, collaborative, durable, citable, findable, and portable across methods of publication, especially hard copy/paper vs. digital/onscreen/online domains. The project has a global footprint including collaborators from US, South Africa, France, Romania. The project was featured by the online media and publications from many countries (Switzerland, Spain, Germany, UK, United States, Peru, Italy, Singapore, United Sates). The long term goal of the platform and of the project is to empower researchers and students interested in communicating more productively, in collaborating as virtual teams, or in disseminating their findings in the most efficient and rapid manner.


TITLE: Exploring the Transformative Nature of Engineering Education Proposals

PRESENTERS: Ann McKenna, Arizona State University; Stephanie Gillespie, University of Miami; Russell Pimmel, National Science Foundation

Governmental, corporate and non-profit organizations have been calling for transformational change in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in the U.S. for many years (e.g., Boyer, 1990; Boyer Commission on Educating Undergraduates in the Research University, 1998; Cicerone, et al., 2010; Jamieson & Lohmann, 2009; National Research Council, 1999b, 2003a, 2003b, 2007, 2010; National Science Board, 1996; National Science Foundation, 1996). Consistent with recent calls for transformation and in recognition of the need for new approaches to facilitating widespread adoption of more effective approaches to teaching and learning in STEM fields, the Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE) at the National Science Foundation (NSF) recently changed the name of the Course, Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) program to Transforming Undergraduate Education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (TUES). The revised program places greater emphasis on projects that have potential to transform undergraduate STEM education. Accordingly, program review criteria were modified; specifically, two additional criteria were added (1) propose materials, processes, or models that have the potential to enhance student learning and to be adapted easily by other sites and (2) involve a significant effort to facilitate adaptation at other sites (NSF solicitation 10-544).

This presentation will report findings from our study that analyzed proposals submitted to NSF’s CCLI program for the Phase/Type 1 deadlines of 2005 and 2009. The goal of this study was to characterize the nature of CCLI proposals in order to determine a baseline for examining the potential effect of the recent name change in the solicitation to Transforming Undergraduate Education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (TUES). The name change was made to emphasize interest in projects that have the potential to transform undergraduate education in STEM fields. Therefore, we were interested in how, prior to the name change, the community conceived of what is necessary to make educational improvements and how investigators operationalized this through their project’s proposed activities.

We selected Phase/Type 1 engineering CCLI proposals, analyzing all funded proposals in 2005 and 2009, and selected a random sample of non-funded proposals for comparison purposes. The percentage of proposals analyzed each year was consistent and represents approximately 30% of submissions received that year. Furthermore, since our sample included approximately 200 proposals, we coded and analyzed data only from the Project Summary. Results showed statistically significant differences between funded and nonfunded proposals in line with several “transformative” categories taken from the literature as well as based on the TUES review criteria of intellectual merit and broader impact. In addition, we found statistically significant differences in several categories between proposals submitted in 2005 and 2009. This presentation will report these findings and illustrate how proposals submitted to the CCLI/TUES program align with various aspects of educational transformation discussed in the literature.


TITLE: Innovation in Manufacturing Education

PRESENTERS: Henry Kraebber, Purdue University; Shirl Donaldson, Purdue University

The USA is facing a competitive crisis that has been documented by the National Academies in the 2007 landmark publication "Rising above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future.” Manufacturing education is very important to the United States. Effective manufacturing education to meet the competitive demands of the future will require innovative solutions. Developing manufacturing education programs that will help the USA continue to lead the world in manufacturing will require people who understand the manufacturing body of knowledge and who can provide innovative ways to interest and engage future students.

Work during the past several months by the SME Education Community has produced a graphic picture of the manufacturing engineering body of knowledge known as the “Four Pillars”. The Pillars detail four fundamental areas of knowledge that support the product producing enterprise: materials and manufacturing processes; product, tooling and assembly engineering; manufacturing systems and operations; and manufacturing competitiveness. The pillars are set upon the solid foundation of mathematics, science, and the skills of personal effectiveness. Overarching the pillars are the critical  elements of metrology, SPC, problem-solving, factor analysis, capability analysis, reliability, continuous improvement and field service.

This paper will discuss manufacturing education and the “four pillars” model of the manufacturing engineering body of knowledge and presents a map of courses offered by the Departments in the College of Technology that deliver manufacturing related topic. The expanded version of the four pillars graphic is a tool that can be used to design and plan academic programs. Manufacturing education programs may include manufacturing in their name, or may be included in other disciplines or in programs that have strong connections to manufacturing topics. Purdue University and the College of Technology in particular are used in an example of how the graphic of the four pillars can be used to evaluate manufacturing programs, identify gaps in the topic coverage and demonstrate the opportunity for other technical disciplines to include more manufacturing related course options and electives in their plans of study. A new vision manufacturing education is needed for the future. One key to future success is the development of critical thinking and innovation skills in both educators and students. These skills include problem solving, teamwork and collaboration, life-long learning, technical and engineering fundamentals and effective communications. We need to develop our faculty and students’ ability to develop unified education plans, collaborate internally and externally, engage constituents, and connect the pieces in new ways. Innovation is the key to future success.

People enter manufacturing companies from many disciplines besides manufacturing engineering or technology. There is not enough room in the plan of study of most of the other disciplines to address the broad content included in the four pillars of manufacturing education. A map of classes to the four pillars can be used to illustrate course choices that can lead to specializations, concentrations or minors in manufacturing that will complement other degrees and disciplines. It is hoped that this additional recognition of the importance of manufacturing related to the other disciplines will encourage more students to supplement their plans of study with manufacturing classes.

Key Issues and Questions to be addressed: What can be done to attract, enroll, and retain students into manufacturing education programs?

  • Active promotion of manufacturing career opportunities to prospective students
  • Proposal of alternate pathways into a minor, a concentration, or a group of manufacturing courses from related majors in Technology, Engineering and Management
  • Actively support and participate in SME promotional activities including the CareerMe, MyCareerMe websites.

What can be changed in manufacturing and related programs that will enhance manufacturing education?

  • Support new and innovative course and curriculum designs •New undergraduate and graduate level programs, certificates, concentrations
  • Radically redesign to create a path to a degree in three calendar years
  • Redesign the current manufacturing plan of study to enable students in other programs to take more manufacturing courses.
  • National best-practices and content supporting manufacturing education
  • Promote the importance of manufacturing in other disciplines and encourage students in other programs to take courses in manufacturing…
  • Promote course pathways that support interests and careers more friendly to women and minorities
  • Change from promoting “Manufacturing Jobs” to “Make a Difference” careers!
  • Promote new education program connections to the “Four Pillars” of manufacturing engineering:
    • Materials and processes;
    • Product tooling and assembly;
    • Manufacturing systems and operations; and
    • Manufacturing competitiveness.
    • Develop stronger links to our local industry professionals and to our professional societies
    • Develop links the SME manufacturing education body of knowledge, technical certifications, and ToolingU


TITLE: Skatepark Mathematics: Making Algebra and Geometry Relevant for High School Students

PRESENTER: William H. Robertson, The University of Texas at El Paso

Getting high school students to enjoy mathematics and to see the connections of concepts in Algebra and Geometry in their daily lives is a challenge for many educators and teachers. As part of a  weeklong mathematics summer enrichment program held in the summer of 2010 in Waco, Texas at Baylor University, a total of 85 students participated in a unique set of activities designed to integrate mathematics concepts and skateboarding. In the spring of 2011, this was expanded to three high schools in El Paso, Texas and involved over 500 students. The student-centered “Skatepark Mathematics” demonstrated innovative and creative ways to engage students in the content and skills required for high school students in geometry and algebra.

This effort was designed to create positive associations and experiences in mathematics for at-risk students or those deemed academically at risk. The necessity of fostering better attitudes and creating better experiences in the field of mathematics for these students is clearly evident in the disparity of math attitudes and skills currently present within the urban, public education arena. In addition, the program is designed to engage the students in critical thinking strategies and to strengthen their basic mathematical skills, as well as build the students' confidence and understanding in mathematics.

As a focus for Skatepark Mathematics, the students were immersed in a series of activities directly related to Dr. Skateboard’s Action Science, which is a curriculum supplement that integrates both skateboarding and BMX. The main emphasis is to link the concepts of science to action sports and to engage students in the exploration of science in a real world context. The term “action science” can be defined as the use of familiar objects, circumstances and situations within the lives of students in order to explain specific concepts in science built around student interests, including action sports like skateboarding and bicycle motocross (BMX).

As the events were lived out with the students, the use of a constructivist framework set in the context of an activity like skateboarding proved to be of great interest and impact with the students. Not only were students engaged, but participated actively in deepening their own understandings of concepts in algebra and geometry. The experience for the high school students integrated the 5Es of Constructivism, Action Science and Skatepark Mathematics into an educational student-centered learning experience. Establishing a relevant and relatable connection to content is critical in gaining student interest and increasing motivation in classroom topics, especially in the areas of mathematics and science. For high school students, this is often a critical point that comes at the beginning of a lesson or program, in which they quickly decide if they will actively participate or withdraw from instruction. In a constructivist framework, the exploration phase should provide students with a common base of experiences and build on the aspects of the engagement activity directly. The students also need to identify and be encouraged to develop concepts, processes, and skills based on an open-ended approach in which students actively explore their environment for learning, in this case, the skatepark. Exploration experiences in this manner rely on establishing real world connections, using materials and technology for hands-on interactions as well as providing a common base of experiences from which to grow and learn.

Next, the explanation phase helps students uncover the content surrounding the concepts they have been exploring. Students should now have opportunities to verbalize their conceptual understanding, to encounter new content material or to demonstrate new skills. This phase also provides opportunities for teachers to introduce primary content materials such as formal terms, definitions, and other content information. The implementation of this phase provides the learner with opportunities to identify skills and behavior in order to both experience and discover content that may be useful in context. The explanation phase should also allow students to develop skills and behaviors that will help them be successful in their learning. Students, like revolutionary scientists, need experiences that help them to develop new views and make better sense of their world. Learning is the responsibility of the learner, but the teacher guides the student into developing meaning from content material and classroom experience. Communication from and between multiple peoples and perspectives is important and vital to learning.

The elaboration phase was designed to extend students' conceptual understanding in areas of skills and behaviors, and to deepen and broaden their content knowledge. In a constructivist framework, the educator provides opportunities in which learners can practice and refine their skills and behaviors in authentic contexts. Students are also given multiple opportunities in order to deepen and broaden their knowledge base and integrate that knowledge into their conceptual understandings and actions, both inside and outside of the classroom. This instructional strategy allows the student to spend time exploring and explaining the process, with time for reflection and numerous experiences upon which to synthesize information.

The evaluation phase requires learners to assess their own understanding and abilities as well as allowing the teacher to evaluate students' understanding of key concepts and skill development. As such, students learn to assess their own abilities, identify areas of mastery that they now possess, as well as strengthen developing understandings and abilities. This provides opportunities for the teacher to evaluate students’ performance of new knowledge integration through presentations or demonstrations. Students can peer-review the work of others, share their own work and get feedback from others and also self assess their work based on strengths and areas that need to be strengthened. The important point is that the learner looks to understand what they know and defend that construction of knowledge so the teacher and experts in the field accept that it is conceptually correct.

By engaging, exploring, and explaining the content in relevant terms and experiences, the students were then able to elaborate on their skills and understandings by experiencing more activities that were directly connected to their various interests. Finally, students evaluated their own conceptual understanding by reflecting on the activities associated with Skatepark Mathematics.


TITLE: Purdue University Offers Interdisciplinary Courses in Homeland Security

PRESENTERS: J. Eric Dietz, Purdue Homeland Security Institute; Steve Riedel, Purdue Homeland Security Institute

Purdue University’s homeland security program supports individuals already engaged in Homeland Security professions in addition to training the next generation of emergency managers. The goal of this effort has been to educate students on the common approaches to the practice of Homeland Security while providing opportunities for in-class instruction and more applied field opportunities. With an interdisciplinary teaching focus and emphasis on practical application, the curriculum is open to all graduate students interested in pursuing a career in homeland security all while integrating knowledge of Homeland Security issues into their own academic or professional pursuits. A team of professionals with experience in various facets of Homeland Security and emergency management lead the two-course sequence and facilitate out-of-class learning by engaging students with guest lectures and industry representatives.


TITLE: Innovations in Pedagogical Approaches to Overcome Barriers to Interdisciplinary Education

PRESENTERS: P. Suresh C. Rao, Purdue University; Heather E. Gall, Purdue University; Linda S. Lee, Purdue University; Bryan Pijanowski, Purdue University; Demetra Evangelou, Purdue University

A significant challenge within interdisciplinary engineering education centers around the observation that engineering students, on the one hand, have limited scientific knowledge to interpret numerical solutions, while science students generally lack the technical skill sets to pursue answers to their questions and hypotheses. In environmental and ecological science and engineering, the ability to explain the implications of an answer is arguably more important than the process of obtaining the answer itself. Therefore, within interdisciplinary courses the need to establish a learning environment that promotes collaboration and discovery among students and mentors with different knowledge and skill sets is both appropriate and highly desired. To date, traditional instructor-centered pedagogical approaches generally struggle to accommodate disciplinary differences among learners. Within these frameworks it is typical for instructors to guide students towards single, convergent thought processes, rather than take advantage of variations to emphasize diverse paths towards engineering solutions.

In order to enhance learning opportunities and overcome barriers in interdisciplinary courses, we have implemented innovative classroom structural organizations. Specifically, we have utilized principles of active student-centered learning and peer tutoring (Prince and Felder, 2006; Prince, 2004; Felder and Brent, 1994) to create a hierarchical mentoring and collaborative learning environment both in undergraduate and graduate courses in interdisciplinary curricula focused on environmental and ecological science and engineering. Current research on education and learning strongly emphasize the importance of active learning, indicating that student-centered teaching helps students to learn better by building metacognitive skills, thereby allowing students to become successful at learning independently (National Research Academy, 2004). Additionally, such a learner-centered teaching approach has been found to generate more student interest in course material and to elevate the retention level of learned material (Elshorbagy, 2005). Research findings also indicate that significant learning and self identity development occurs during interaction with others, therefore suggesting the need to integrate team work into classroom activities (Johri and Olds, 2011). Smith et al. (2005) emphasize that successful cooperative learning groups employ “positive interdependence” to ensure that each student in a team is mutually accountable for the team’s end result. Therefore, the manner in which an instructor executes cooperative and problem-based learning is critical to its success.

Several researchers (e.g., Smith et al., 2005; Duderstadt, 1999) have called on faculty members to turn away from traditional teaching roles and methodologies and instead create an engaging, fulfilling, and interesting environment for students. The practices we have implemented based on these research findings include (1) peer-to-peer mentoring among small teams of undergraduate students to complete team projects; (2) graduate students mentoring the undergraduate teams and conducting synthesis and integration activities across teams; as well as involve (3) multiple instructors with diverse training, expertise, and backgrounds who coordinate the overall course activities, including lectures, collaborative sessions, and class projects. With regards to assessment we employ a formative framework in which student input and evaluations generated throughout the semester provide opportunities to monitor the effectiveness of the various approaches, update course objectives, and continue to emphasize collaborative learning. These processes have been employed in several courses over the past five years and have involved several faculty, two postdoctoral researchers, several graduate students, and approximately 200 students.

This approach within multidisciplinary engineering education is both multi-dimensional, and hierarchical taking into consideration important principles of classroom based learning in order to achieve the following goals: (1) integrating scientific knowledge and engineering skill sets; (2) establishing an intellectually encouraging environment for students to develop and strengthen leadership skills, presentation skills, and critical thinking skills; and (3) inspiring students to embrace diversity, work in teams, and approach interdisciplinary problems with an open mind. We propose that our framework creates a reliable method to gauge student development and learning in these courses because it promotes higher order cognitive abilities of problem solving and critical thinking skills and deemphasizes traditional “plug and chug” approaches where the tendency is to test students based on simple recall and application. In this work, we describe our process with reference to contemporary educational
research based practices as well as argue for their use in interdisciplinary engineering education.

Duderstadt, J.J., Can Colleges and Universities Survive in the Information Age? In Katz, R.N. and Associates, Eds., Dancing with the Devil: Information Technology and the New Competition in Higher Education. San Francisco, CA.: Jossey-Bass (1999).

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TITLE: Measuring What Students Know: Misconceptions and Concept Inventories in Chemistry

PRESENTER: Stacey Lowery Bretz, Miami University

Chemists continue to engage in pedagogy and curriculum reform, yet struggle to measure student thinking about concepts. This presentation will describe a program of research to design concept inventories across the disciplines of chemistry. The design of these measures is grounded in learning theory and challenges students to articulate their understanding across multiple representations. This research has also raised challenges to traditional measures of reliability and validity, resulting in a new suite of tools for use in concept inventory development.


TITLE: Novel Research Community at the High School Level

PRESENTER: Sophia Gershman, Watching Hills High School and Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

This work discusses the implementation of STEM education in the form of structured research experiences extended to undergraduate and high school students. These experiences have the potential of having national and international impact and they are supported through national and international competitions such as Seaman's and Intel competitions that involve hundreds of thousands of students from around the world. Research experiences are currently available to graduate students and select undergraduate and high school students. This group benefits from their participation in the scientific community with younger, less informed students participating in more limited, less creative ways.

A new program is described that allows high school students to initiate their research, to develop and pursue their own scientific interests. The early data shows the enrollment growth of about 50% and high levels of retention of both male and female students in the science and technology fields. The key reasons for the success are discussed including the necessary characteristics of mentors as highly skilled researchers and educators. A process is suggested that would allow a wide expansion of this program into other schools and communities.


TITLE: Hotseat: Student Engagement in the Age of Cell Phones and Social Media

PRESENTER: Kyle Bowen, Purdue University

Among typical faculty concerns are students who bring mobile devices such as laptops, netbooks, tablets, and smart phones to class; faculty are concerned that students may use these devices to ignore course content or distract fellow students. Another concern is large lecture management: how can an instructor lead a discussion, answer questions, keep control of the class, and stay within the constraints of a typical class period? A third concern for instructors is identifying and efficiently answering common questions about course structure, assignments, tests, and deadlines. Faculty may see the benefits of thoughtful collaboration via popular social media tools, but struggle to capture analytics necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of its use.

Hotseat, a mobile Web application developed at Purdue University, addresses these concerns by enabling students to use mobile devices as a way to participate in class-related discussion. In practical use, instructors provide a question, comment, or framework and students contribute a short response using most any mobile device. Students can also choose to submit their ideas via Twitter, by using a hash tag provided by the instructor, or using the Hotseat Facebook application. Students may also choose to post their ideas anonymously - removing their name from view and reducing inhibitions related to asking questions or providing the wrong answer. The display of student responses, or 'thoughts' as they are called within Hotseat, is automatically updated as they they are submitted by the class. Students can read, vote and comment on posts by other students - identifying common questions or areas of discussion.

Access to Hotseat is based on course enrollment, and students are authenticated using their standard university login and password. In this way, Hotseat provides a short form of text messaging or microblogging that can be leveraged in a stable, class-specific, easily accessible space. From a pedagogical standpoint, Hotseat is a departure from the traditional lecture model in its focus on students and empowering them to connect with the instructor and each other in a familiar informal environment. By using Hotseat, instructors take the role of both facilitator and guide.

Deployment for both Fall and Spring semesters will include gathering research on how it is used in class, student perceptions, instructor perceptions, and additional information described in the outcomes section. This presentation includes data from Fall 2009, and Spring 2010 semesters, which represents a wide variety of courses including more than 3,000 students. Data will include quantitative measures of student participation in the tool, including both usage (posts, replies, and votes) and content (the posts themselves), results from student surveys about the tool and mobile device use, classroom observation data, and feedback from instructors using the tool. Student performance in the course, including the student grade for the course in which Hotseat is used will also be part of the planned data set.


TITLE:i8: Innovation Through Design of Toys

PRESENTERS: Karthik Ramani, Purdue University; Elkin Taborda, Purdue University; Senthil Kumaran, Purdue University

ME444 was developed about 20 years ago as an innovative approach for teaching Computed-Aided Design (CAD) and prototyping to Mechanical Engineering students. Around 2400 students have seen the benefits of this experience. The evolution of the course in the past was directed especially towards developing a “self-paced” CAD learning content for students, as well as towards using the instructors’ knowledge to integrate CAD based methods into the course. The course was application-oriented in that the students learned CAD concepts, and applied them to a course project to design an “action toy” with significant geometric and mechanical complexity. Both these complexities of the toys have continued to increase during the evolution of the course. With a strong need to address innovation proactively in both, the economy and students’ capabilities, we have been transforming ME444. We are embedding new learning on “design thinking” and “doing”, enabling students to be creative and innovative designers with strong engineering skills.

The i8™ framework is the engine for innovative design thinking. i8™ stands for Inspiration, insight, ideation, imagination, iteration, implementation, impact for INNOVATION. In a globalized and competitive world, new engineers need better frameworks that can make use of tools such as CAD. But CAD tools alone cannot make innovative designers. This is why new engineers cannot ignore the importance of innovation and experience and practice design thinking, combining play and imagination with engineering design. Albert Einstein said: “We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them”. If current problems have been created by over-structured design processes, and tools like CAD, we should probably look for solutions by injecting child-like thinking through flexible
processes and imaginative tools, in the form of PLAY. Play used as a part of i8™ framework is critical for imagination and creating a future that does not exist. Our students are aware that CAD has become a fundamental tool for engineers in industry.

This is one of the reasons for the popularity of the class. However, almost every engineering school, not only in the country but around the world, is providing students with this important knowledge. Also, CAD has to be used at the right time in the design process. Researchers have pointed out some potential risks of using CAD software, for example circumscribed thinking, premature fixation, and bounded ideation. In other words: CAD could become an innovation killer if designers are not trained carefully to avoid these risks and if they do not have other skills to complement the CAD process. This means being proficient in CAD is not enough to become an outstanding engineer for the future, the “Imagineer”.

The challenge is now to provide students with modern computational tools, avoid the potential risks of their inappropriate use, and yet add value to design through innovation. Our design team decided to re-design the ME444 course, applying the i8™ principles, and in turn informing the i8™ framework. Inspiration from other courses on innovation and results from research on engineering education, design education and cognitive sciences was an important starting point. Our approach empowers the students with frameworks for play, value-based innovation, and creation of concepts using the language of the designer: freehand sketching, at the appropriate times in the design process. This basic approach in developing a new language for design for engineering, using free-hand sketching, has the capacity to address the potential problems of CAD, and to create an imaginative thinking using better spatial visualization of designs that do not exist.

Although well-known and recognized as a basic tool for  engineers, freehand sketching or the “mind’s-eye” is an ability poorly developed in engineering students. It is taught in contexts that do not allow them to see this as a way of thinking about designing, but only as a way to learn current CAD frameworks better, such as in technical graphics. However, in disciplines such as Architecture and Industrial Design, freehand sketching is taught as a means for problem solving, idea generation and concept generation. For engineers, most of the time, concepts such as perspective sketching have become just an old fashioned way taught before CAD. Thus, the engineers’ creativity can be increased by helping them learn a new way of freehand sketching, build it into their experiential design process, such as toy design, so they have hands-on experience for designing and thinking. This new imaginative engineering and design learning space for all of the i8™ processes to ‘flow’, along with sketching, is the new ME444. Some aspects of freehand sketching have been identified and tied together in an easy to understand way. Application of perspective, expressing motion, understanding of “soft pencil” sketching and construction of complex shapes using primitives are a short list. Dedicated workshops have been designed to provide these tools to students and contents have been carefully interwoven into the class timeline. The goal is to create a complete set of methods and frameworks that are abstract, but also connected to toy design, in the i8™ environment.

This way of situated learning will cultivate in them an imagination that can be applied in new contexts much beyond toy design. Our course is a flow of experiences that will enable students to transform their imaginations in service of innovation, thus transforming their ideas to have impact. A previous pilot experience suggested this was the way to go, but the complete approach is currently being implemented for the first time. We are glad to show you what we are doing now and expecting for having feedback and data which validates those hypothesis by next year.

Redesigning a successful course is based on the principles of how students learn. Motivation in its different forms is key in earning the attention of students. Retention it is most likely to happen once people are motivated and drawn to pay attention to new points of view. Finally, reproduction of this new knowledge and application of the i8™ framework is expected to be visible in the final outcome of the class: the toy.


TITLE: Design Frameworks for Innovation in Engineering

PRESENTERS: Karthik Ramani, Purdue University; Fnu Vinayak, Purdue University

The Innovation: The core contributions to help students learn design broadly are embedding of innovation and creativity in a novel dual level technical elective for product and process design (ME553) which includes an engineering professional continuing education distance component. This initiative has continuously infused design thinking to conceptualize, develop, and prototype high impact concepts into students design capabilities and practice. This course has a very high impact both on and off-campus and built innovation capacity among his students. A particular contribution is methods for opportunity identification and problem definition, which is a very important skill for innovation. The impact of these ideas have so far reached over 600 students, with roughly 60 students taking this elective each year.

The current efforts are directed towards building a team that is engineering design innovation centered within the School of Mechanical Engineering for senior design projects. Over the past few years, academic institutions have become aware of the importance of innovation in education, as well as its broader role in strengthening the economy. Both creativity and innovative thinking are not easy to teach in the classroom, but they can be developed by practice and experience. Evaluating innovation as a part of product design courses has thus become very important to increase the probability of students becoming innovators in the real world.

Rationale: Innovation has been the key to America’s success for more than a century. Scientific and technological innovations have fostered our economic and social prosperity for the previous two centuries, accounting for nearly half of the economic growth in the U.S. in the last 50 years. Innovation is now recognized as "the single most important ingredient in any modern economy”. Global competition is redefining the process of innovation, and the competitive advantage that the U.S. had over the world is being challenged. There has never been a clearer imperative to improve the innovative and entrepreneurial mindset of U.S. college graduates, particularly in engineering. Unfortunately, creativity - an important precursor to innovation - appears to be on the decline in the U.S. In addition, many students do not view engineering as a field of study for "creative types”. This is especially true considering how engineering is "marketed". We need to rethink how we attract and educate engineers to support the technological and social innovations that are needed to address the many complex global challenges and problems.

Vision: To address these challenges, we created a platform for building innovative capacity in students while they are learning and having fun.

Objectives: Our approach to developing a series of successful and entrepreneurial initiatives are informed by a strong framework we have developed over the past two decades. They are described below in understanding, studying and developing strategies for making them innovative through implementation and assessment. The operational definition of innovation for the purposes of student design projects we used is: "Innovation is a new match between a need and a solution. The novelty can be in the solution or the need; or in a new marriage between both existing need and solution.”

  1. Understand what makes engineers innovative: Our educational research in the School of Mechanical Engineering was enabled by the encouragement and support of ME alumnus Tom Mallot through the innovation awards. The collaborative findings suggest that engineering specific skill development may be overemphasized and in addition providing more breadth of knowledge is more valuable for engineering innovation. However, some interpret the breadth as "watering-down," which in our view is not a trade-off. Such differences suggest that what the faculty perceive as critical may differ from what the "real world" needs, and there are opportunities to engage industry and students differently about what is essential in the world of innovative work.
    1. ME553, which is also a distance component vastly successful in industry, supports distributed infrastructure partly using a Wiki to help students develop opportunities into viable, feasible and desirable product concepts. We have published our research on mechanisms that are operative when the social distance is higher in teams with noncollocated students such as reflective thinking and shared understanding. We also have developed a global component for ME553 projects where the teams work with others in Netherlands (Delft), Colombia (EAFIT), South Africa, and India (IIIT) in distributed teams. The teams develop product concepts at the interfaces of ubiquitous computing and a social context and also a prototype for testing.
  2. Study how engineers learn to be innovative, which will help identify the pathways students take to become innovative as well as the barriers that hinder innovation in academia. Recent work by our collaborators has shown that everyone rated intrinsic motivation and divergent thinking ability among the top five attributes of innovators, and all groups considered early stage creativity skills essential. This strongly suggests that educators should emphasize problem and opportunity recognition in their courses. By holding innovation tournaments, we are striving to develop innovative design thinking in students and while they gain practical application experiences in the context of design projects. Understanding design innovation at a deeper level in the context of student project is critical to develop a realistic perspective of it among students. Determining the appropriate dimensions for understanding and measuring innovation is one of the objectives of his current efforts.
  3. Develop strategies to make engineers more innovative, which will create robust and reliable corridors via educational synergies with industry and local, state, and national partners. The overall strategy is to use the emerging platform of 6400 square feet of design project space in the new Gatewood Wing of Mechanical Engineering as a platform for research in design innovation. As part of this work, they have paired engineering design (ME553 and senior design projects) with social science/organization behavior and communication studies courses, respectively, to examine the impact of innovation networks on the process of innovation. Taking an interdisciplinary research approach, the teams sociologically focused work will complement the research in engineering design processes by exploring the consequences and capabilities of the social and organizational contexts surrounding the design and development of products and services.