Education Research Activities
Paul D. Schreuders
Engineering Education Research
Overall Focus Area
Development of design skills and their assessment in engineering education. The research will concentrate in developing design skills during the first two years of engineering last two years of high school.
These four years are a critical time period during the development of an engineer for several reasons. First, this is the period when students are deciding whether to enter engineering as a profession. Thus, it is critical that they be exposed to the excitement of the profession. However, this is also when they have the fewest engineering courses. This research will both develop and improve engineering education materials for use during pre- and early engineering education
This four year period is also a challenging one for engineering educators. The students are not yet prepared for engineering design and analysis, having not yet completed their mathematical and science course work. In addition, "Introduction to Engineering" classes are usually quite large, limiting the level of Faculty-Student interactions during project development and providing challenges in student knowledge assessment. The introduction of media enhanced materials and collaborative learning methodologies for engineering modeling and design presents significant promise in the education of students with a wide range of learning styles.
A major challenge in engineering is the recruitment and retention of women. This four year period is when the final decision to enter (or not enter) engineering is made. Several obstacles have been identified to meeting these challenges. First is the lack of engineering materials that have been designed to meet their interests and learning styles. Second is their avoidance of the courses through which male engineering students are recruited into and prepared for engineering. Existing interest by women students in biology and biological engineering programs nationwide suggests that this may be an effective avenue for reaching out to potential engineering students. By "going where the students are" an opportunity exists to introduce these women to engineering as a field and prepare them for entry into all engineering disciplines.
Impact on College of Engineering
Currently, a large number of granting agencies have a requirement that includes "diffusion of the technology" (NIST), "promoting of teaching, training, and learning" (NSF), "widest practicable dissemination of research results" (NASA). Paul Schreuders' multidisciplinary experience and research into and development of educational materials will strengthen the College of Engineering faculty's ability to meet the grant outreach and impact requirements. He will do this by providing them with both the expertise in educational materials creation and an avenue for dissemination into K-12 education community.
(1) Development of methods for teaching and assessment of design in large first-year classes with an emphasis on media enhanced course materials and assessment. The identification and use of multiple methodologies, particularly those designed to reach out to under-represented groups such as women and minorities, should have a significant effect on recruitment and retention in engineering.
(2) Development of methods for teaching engineering design using graphical modeling tools to solve design equations. The resulting methodologies will allow pre- and early engineering students to learn design processes that are beyond their developing mathematical abilities. The project will make use of engineering graphical simulation tools (such as Simulink) for model development and will make the tools available for stand-alone distribution using Stella.
(3) While there are a large number of design projects developed for use in pre- and early engineering education, the comparatively recently developed biology-based engineering disciplines do not have many projects available. The development of low-cost biological engineering projects for use in high school science and technology classes is therefore an important component for the growth of these disciplines. An emphasis will be placed on gender neutral and female student appropriate topics and methodologies.
Courses Taught at the University Utah State University
Courses Taught at the University of Maryland
Courses Taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago