Category Archives: news

Experiencing the Campus Culture at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

When people say the name Rose-Hulman, they often associate the institution with unique characteristics—a caring family, educators who are connected to their students, and educators who put their students at the center of their teaching practice. On my visit to Rose-Hulman, these characteristics were evident in every conversation I engaged in with educators to staff and even to students. On my two day visit, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet with a number of individuals and the conversations in these meetings included: what is reflection, how do we implement reflection into our teaching, how do we evaluate reflection in our teaching, is this [insert activity name] a reflective activity , how do we implement reflection into an already full curriculum, how can I get involved in CPREE activities, and many more thought provoking topics. The evidence of dedication and passion for teaching and learning was evident through the deep questions educators, staff, and students engaged with me about.

While all of these conversations included many meaningful highlights, I want to emphasize a few of these interactions in-depth: (1) engaging with engineering undergraduate students about their engineering education research and connections with the CPREE efforts; and (2) observing CPREE activities come full circle to impact classroom activities.

Historically, it has been less common for Rose-Hulman undergraduate students to be involved in engineering education research. More recently, students have become more interested in the topic and actively involved in engineering education research. On my campus visit, I met with Katelyn Stenger, Mechanical Engineering senior, and Chris Gewirtz, Physics Engineering senior. First, what stood out to me about my discussions with Katelyn and Chris was their understanding of highly intellectual topics—metacognition and reflection. Next, these two students described their research in knowledgeable, meaningful, and passionate ways. Throughout our conversation, I enjoyed helping them make connections between their research and the CPREE efforts. In the end, the connections that Chris and Katelyn were making between the engineering education research and the CPREE efforts at Rose-Hulman were quite sophisticated in nature. I am excited to see the mark both of these fantastic engineers will make!

Another highlight from my trip was seeing CPREE efforts impact classroom activities. The first evening I went to dinner with campus PI’s Patrick Cunningham, Ella Ingram, and Jay McCormack. During our conversation, Patrick talked about a reflection activity he wanted to implement the next day in class. During this conversation, we gave him suggestions about the activity, even pointing him to a relevant CPREE field guide entry. (Note: Field guide entries represent a reflection activity an educator has used in the classroom. By the end of year 1 of CPREE, each campus partner will have a field guide with at least 10 field guide entries.) Before the class session in which Patrick planned on implementing the reflection activity, he read the field guide entry and adjusted his reflection activity based on what he learned. The next day, I had the opportunity to observe Patrick’s class and his implementation of the reflection activity. It was an exciting to see CPREE come full circle to impact classroom activities!

Another characteristic of Rose-Hulman that stood out to me was the nature of the questions asked—deep, thought provoking, and passionate questions. In every conversation I had, educators, staff, and students engaged me in meaningful conversations about teaching and learning.  I now know that the next time I visit Rose-Hulman, I better have my thinking cap on! I look forward to my next visit to Rose-Hulman.

Sustaining reflection in teaching and even integrating it across the curriculum in the midst of changes

By: Brook Sattler, PhD, CPREE multi-campus coordinator

Over the last four or five years there have been a number of changes on the ASU Polytechnic campus. They have experienced name changes, consolidations, exponential growth in the number of students, etc. Even with a record number of changes, they are continuing to focus on students and what it means to support deep learning and students’ ability to transfer their learning to different contexts.

On my visit to the Polytechnic campus, this mission was evident in every conversation I had. Educators were asking engaging questions—how do we integrate reflection across multiple sections of the same course, how do we integrate reflection across the curriculum, how do we reach engineering educators who are not interested in supporting student reflection, and what is the evidence base for reflection in engineering education? The depth of the questions shows that many educators at the Polytechnic campus already value the use of reflection in their classroom, and they often integrate reflection activities into their teaching.

During my visit, I worked with campus CPREE PI’s Kristy and Adam to host a workshop on reflection. In this workshop, we discussed reflection generally and the national and local CPREE goal. Then individual educators shared “reflection problems” they were trying to solve. The group helped one another brainstorm solutions to their “reflection problems.” It was an engaging conversation about reflection and supporting student reflection. I look forward to hearing how these educators addressed their “reflection problems.”

Overall, this was a great campus visit—Kristy and Adam are off to a fantastic start on the polytechnic campus! They are even starting a reading group around Linda Nilson’s book—Creating Self-Regulated Learners: Strategies to Strengthen Students’ Self-Awareness and Learning Skills. During their second year of CPREE, they plan on reaching out to the ASU Tempe campus engineering faculty. While potentially challenging, this is a unique opportunity to reach a different population of educators—educators who may be a little more resistant to reflection in engineering education, educators who may be focused more on technical research, educators who may be focused on teaching the technical content, and educators who may want a strong (quantitative) evidence base for reflection, etc. I look forward to the exciting things Kristy and Adam have planned for their campus—a book club, mini-faculty grants, “train the professor” activities, and many more!

Inquiring minds: Engaging in critical questioning at Cal Poly

By: Brook Sattler, PhD, CPREE multi-campus coordinator

Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, had the opportunity to be my guinea pig for the first CPREE campus visit. This campus visit was filled with engaging conversation, including three things I would like to highlight: (1) engaging in field guide member checking with Kimberley Mastako; (2) giving a talk about reflection in engineering education; and (3) participating in the inquiry discussion group.

My campus visit started with a member checking session with Kimberley Mastako, Civil and Environmental Engineering. (Member checking is engaging the educator in a dialogue about their field guide entry, checking the accuracy of it.) The reflection activity represented in Kimberley’s field guide entry-Reflection in engineering education and transformative learning-was the first time she had integrated a reflection activity into her teaching. Her participation in CPREE activities at Cal Poly encouraged her to try something new, supporting students in reflection. While we discussed the field guide entry, it was fascinating to hear how Kimberley’s perspective about teaching and learning has shifted. On my campus visit, I talked to four educators about their field guide entries (i.e., Linda Vanasupa, Kathy Chen, and Jim Widmann).

While visiting Cal Poly, I gave a talk-“Reflection in Engineering Education: What, Why, How?” There were about 15 people in attendance, even 2 students! Overall the talk was successful as evident by the amount of talk attendees engaged in conversation about implications of the talk; types of connections made to other contexts; and the positive reactions verbalized. Additionally, throughout the rest of my visit, people were making connections between my talk and other topics related to teaching and learning.

Finally, at the end of the day I participated in their inquiry group. The purpose of the inquiry group has been to provide a safe and supportive space to grapple with ideas related to reflection. In the first quarter, the group grappled with the conversation-what is reflection? The plan this quarter is to talk about transformation in engineering education.

Overall, this was an engaging campus visit. It was a great opportunity to chat with educators about reflection and their questions about supporting reflection on their campus. In these conversations, I was able to offer up suggestions using tools and resources CPREE is creating, specifically the campus field guides on reflections. I look forward to working with and supporting Trevor Harding and the Cal Poly team in the exciting CPREE activities to come!

Why is this major foundation encouraging reflection by engineering students?

Engineers are generally forward-thinking people—researching, developing, and testing the kinds of technological innovations that move economies and societies ahead. A new grant from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, however, encourages undergraduate engineering students to look back.

Helmsley recently awarded $4.4 million in grants to a dozen institutions of higher education to develop and promote instructional practices that are designed to help undergraduate engineering students reflect on their experiences. Reflection involves examining early experiences to draw meaning from them, then defining how that meaning will guide future actions.

Now it may be tempting to dismiss all this as too touchy-feely or as the “Oprah-fication” of engineering. However, reflection has long been recognized as an important element of higher education, even in the STEM fields. “Reflection accelerates the learning that happens through experience, and so it is critical for preparing the next generation of engineers,” said Cynthia Atman, a professor of Human Centered Design and Engineering at the University of Washington.

The Helmsley grant will focus on first- and second-year undergraduate engineering majors, especially those from student populations underrepresented in STEM. It is hoped that the reflection program will help more of these students complete their degrees and think broadly when they enter the workforce. Schools sharing in the Helmsley funds include Arizona State, California Polytechnic, Georgia Institute of Technology, Stanford, and the University of Washington.

The program to encourage reflection is consistent with Helmsley’s approach to higher education, which emphasizes increasing the number of graduates in the STEM fields, with particular attention paid to practices that improve student retention and completion, especially among underrepresented students.

Clearly, the Helmsley Trust has hit upon an area of concern. A presidential commission found that only 4 in 10 students who enter college as STEM majors go on to complete degrees in those fields, among ethnic minority students, the completion rate is even lower. So there is plenty of room for good ideas to improve these rates and encourage more persistence among STEM majors.

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http://www.insidephilanthropy.com/science-education/2014/10/9/why-is-this-major-foundation-encouraging-reflection-by-engin.html

12 higher education schools team up to promote reflection

September 8, 2014

Michelle Ma, University of Washington News and Information

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust has granted $4.4 million to a consortium of 12 higher education schools to develop and promote teaching practices that help undergraduate engineering students reflect on their experiences.

The newly formed Consortium to Promote Reflection in Engineering Education (CPREE), led by the University of Washington’s Center for Engineering Learning & Teaching, focuses on first- and second-year undergraduates who want to be engineers. The goal is to enhance their ability to learn, help a greater percentage complete their degrees and ultimately foster a larger, more diverse and better prepared engineering workforce.

“Research increasingly points to reflection as an important activity in achieving these goals,” said Jennifer Turns, consortium co-director and a UW professor of Human Centered Design & Engineering.

Reflection — giving meaning to prior experiences and determining how that meaning will guide future actions — has long been recognized as important in higher education.

“Reflection accelerates the learning that happens through experience, and so it is critical for preparing the next generation of engineers,” said Cynthia Atman, consortium co-director and a UW professor of Human Centered Design & Engineering.

Because reflection practices and strategies may vary greatly across schools, the consortium incorporates both associate’s degree-granting and four-year institutions. Each institution brings a distinct perspective on teaching engineering and great enthusiasm for expanding their focus on reflection, leaders said.

The schools involved are Arizona State University, Polytechnic School, in Mesa, Arizona; Bellevue College in Bellevue, Washington; California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California; Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York; Green River Community College in Auburn, Washington; Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta; Highline College in Des Moines, Washington; Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana; Seattle Central College in Seattle; Seattle University in Seattle; Stanford University in Palo Alto, California; and the University of Washington.

The 12-school consortium will involve nearly 250 educators who will collect data on 18,000 student experiences. Each institution will get $200,000 over two academic years to fund a principal investigator and other colleagues to carry out the work. The tools and practices developed throughout this initiative will be shared with engineering programs nationwide.

“The project is designed to celebrate the local culture at each institution. Each educator has a kind of expertise that we want to reveal,” Atman said.

In the first year, the emphasis is on documenting reflection activities already in use on the campuses and creating support for student reflection. Another key part of the work is for the campuses to learn from each other.

To achieve these goals, schools will hold campus events that promote conversations about reflecting as a learning practice. The principal investigator at each school will participate in regular conference calls with the other leads, and in the winter, engage more deeply with each other at a meeting at the UW. While developing a plan for how to expand their reflection activities in the second year, each school — in collaboration with consortium staff — will additionally compile a guide that explains reflection practices in use at their institution as a way to inform colleagues and others in higher education.

Project leaders expect the consortium’s work will be useful across all disciplines in higher education. The practice of taking a broader view of learning by emphasizing reflection is something that can benefit all students and their educators, regardless of the field.

“The Trust is delighted to support such a diverse group of schools in this effort to increase our nation’s engineering capacity,” said Ryan Kelsey, program officer for higher education at the Helmsley Charitable Trust. “Helping first- and second-year students reflect on what it means to be an engineer as they learn foundational concepts is a very promising strategy for attracting and retaining a larger and more diverse future engineering workforce.”

For more information, contact Atman at atman@uw.edu or 206-616-2171 and Turns at jturns@uw.edu or 206-221-3650.

See the original press release here: http://www.engr.washington.edu/news/cpree-consortium

Reflection makes sense: New initiative prompts engineering students to look back to go forward

University of Washington News and Information

Asking students to reflect on and learn from their educational experiences is crucial to academic and career successes. But bringing this element of reflection into teaching practices remains a significant challenge, especially in engineering education.

The University of Washington’s Center for Engineering Learning & Teaching has received a $4.4 million grant from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust to develop and promote teaching practices that help undergraduate engineering students reflect on their experiences. The award establishes the Consortium to Promote Reflection in Engineering Education that focuses on first- and second-year undergraduates who want to be engineers, especially those from underrepresented populations. The goal is to enhance their ability to learn, help a greater percentage complete their degrees and ultimately foster a larger and better prepared engineering workforce that the global economy requires.

U of Washington

“We need to graduate engineers who are thinking broadly when they enter the working world and are capable of developing solutions for the challenges our society faces,” said Cindy Atman, director of the engineering center and a professor of Human Centered Design & Engineering.

The UW-led consortium will involve a group of 12 higher education institutions, including community colleges, four-year colleges and research universities. Organizers aim to involve nearly 250 educators across the 12 institutions and collect data from 18,000 student experiences. Each institution will get $200,000 over two academic years to fund a principal investigator and other colleagues to carry out the work. The tools and practices developed through this initiative will be brought to engineering programs nationwide.

Reflection – giving meaning to prior experiences and determining how that meaning will guide future actions – has long been recognized as important in higher education. Research has established a relationship between reflection and follow-through in academics, finding that small-scale challenges – such as a bad test score or a difficult homework assignment – can accumulate and influence a student’s decision to leave her or his engineering program.

“The one thing you can count on in education is that students will have challenging experiences they will need to reflect on,” said Jennifer Turns, a professor of Human Centered Design & Engineering and faculty affiliate with the Center for Engineering Learning & Teaching. Turns is co-leading the new initiative at the UW.

“If you can get students to add an element of reflection that can bump them out of the ‘I don’t belong in engineering’ feeling at the micro-level, you might be able to change their macro-level decision to leave or stay in engineering,” Turns said.

Organizers will start by identifying the institutions in the consortium and begin working with each one to see how educators currently use reflection practices in their teaching. In the following years, consortium leaders will create documents that capture how instructors at each participating school incorporate reflection into the classroom. Leaders will award grants to spearhead new projects that creatively bring reflection into classrooms and track the effects on learning and student retention.

University of Washington graduate students talk about their projects in class.

Project leaders expect the consortium’s work will be useful across all disciplines in higher education. The practice of taking a broader view of learning by emphasizing reflection is something that can benefit all students and their educators, regardless of the field.

“There is this really important sense-making process that has to happen, and we forget sometimes that students need help doing it,” Turns said. “When I ask students what surprised them in a specific learning situation, they get a chance to pause and think about what that surprise means. In the process, their blind spots get surfaced and sometimes mine do, too.”

The goal in choosing a range of schools is to tailor types of reflection practices to what students need at different institutions. For example, a student at a community college who is hoping to enroll in an engineering program likely has different needs than a second-year university student who is already taking engineering classes. Similarly, educators and advisers need the tools to encourage different types of reflection, depending on students’ needs.

“The project design tries to celebrate the local culture. Each educator has a kind of expertise that we want to reveal,” Atman said.

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For more information, contact Atman at atman@uw.edu or 206-616-2171 and Turns at jturns@uw.edu or 206-221-3650.

See the original press release at:

http://www.washington.edu/news/2014/03/05/reflection-makes-sense-new-initiative-prompts-engineering-students-to-look-back-to-go-forward/