Teaching MSE Students to Teach: A Design-Based Research Model for Introducing Professional Skills into the Technical Curriculum

Teaching MSE Students to Teach: A Design-Based Research Model for Introducing Professional Skills into the Technical Curriculum

Catherine G.P. Berdanier (Purdue University, USA), Tasha Zephirin (Purdue University, USA), Monica F. Cox (Purdue University, USA), and Suely M. Black (Norfolk State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8183-5.ch019
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The purpose of this chapter is to show how design-based research (DBR) methodologies can be implemented in technical programs. First, the authors provide a background of recent research in interdisciplinary education, Integrative Graduate Education Research Traineeship (IGERT) programs, and design-based research. Second, a brief summary the example case, a Pedagogy module which has been implemented with Materials Science and Materials Engineering students through an IGERT program, is discussed. The final portion of the chapter presents a new implementation model for DBR along with recommendations and strategies for interested faculty, department heads, or motivated graduate students to reform existing technical curricula using design-based research. The significance of the book chapter rests in the flexibility of this model to be adapted to any program, showing instructors the iterative process for developing a course to suit the needs of a department.
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Despite an increase in complex, interdisciplinary engineering challenges (Borrego & Newswander, 2010; COSEPUP, 1995), academic programs and especially graduate level engineering education have continued in a more traditional route. Students are trained at the bachelor’s level to work in an industry setting (ABET, 2013), and at the graduate level, to be experts in a narrow field or discipline, with little time devoted to interdisciplinary or professional skill development (Golde & Gallagher, 1999; Manathunga, Lant, & Mellick, 2006; Morse, Nielsen-Pincus, Force, & Wulfhorst, 2007). Future scientists and engineers who can leverage knowledge, methods and procedures from a variety of disciplines are more creative problem-solvers than those that have been trained in a single discipline (Austin, Connelly, & Colbeck, 2001; Austin, 2002; Colbeck, 2008; Golde & Gallagher, 1999) as they are better prepared for actual tasks and innovation in their future careers (Youngblood, 2007). In addition to interdisciplinary technical skills, students involved in interdisciplinary programs boast student development of professional skills, such as communication skills, ethics, technical writing, and teamwork experience (Gamse, Espinosa, & Roy, 2013; Borrego & Newswander, 2010).

Key Terms in this Chapter

IGERT: Integrative Graduate Education Research Traineeship, funded by the National Science Foundation as a method of training interdisciplinary doctoral students.

Pedagogy: Practices of educational methods used by instructors and educators.

Rigorous Research: Conducting research by abiding to best practices in method selection (from appropriate fields) and high-quality research design and reporting of results to the academic community.

Stakeholder: Any person or entity that has an interest in the success or failure of a program.

Educational Intervention: A new program, course, curriculum, or pedagogical technique that seeks to reform an older system or practice.

“Soft” Skills or Professional Skills: Non-technical skills (such as management skills, verbal and written communication skills, presentation skills, and interpersonal and teamwork skills) that are necessary for professional success.

Engineering Education Research: Research into how students and professionals at all levels of engineering best learn the skills required to be successful professionals.

Design-Based Research: Educational research that is accomplished through the iterative planning of desired outcomes, methods, and assessment as a course of designing a curriculum or educational intervention.

Engineering Education: The education (general) of engineering students and future engineering professionals.

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