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Engineering Education Department's Research Areas

The department has six areas of research that define the research direction for the department.

Engineering Learning & Problem Solving

As the rapid development of computer and Internet technologies, a wide variety of educational technologies have been developed and employed to support teaching and learning in higher education. Representative examples include Classroom Response Systems (nicknamed clickers), various classroom management systems (such as Canvas and Blackboard), and various multimedia education systems (such as computer simulations and animations, virtual reality, and intelligent tutoring systems).

Engineering statics and dynamics textbook

Over the past ten years, EED faculty members and students have conducted a significant amount of work to develop and implement a variety of innovative educational technologies to support teaching and learning in foundational engineering courses. We are among the first group of faculty members who implemented clickers in engineering classrooms at USU. Research efforts have also been made to assess the effects of computer simulations and animations on student learning.

 

Faculty working in this area include:


Technology Enhanced Learning

As the rapid development of computer and Internet technologies, a wide variety of educational technologies have been developed and employed to support teaching and learning in higher education. Representative examples include Classroom Response Systems (nicknamed clickers), various classroom management systems (such as Canvas and Blackboard), and various multimedia education systems (such as computer simulations and animations, virtual reality, and intelligent tutoring systems)

Students using technology to enhance their education

Over the past ten years, EED faculty members and students have conducted a significant amount of work to develop and implement a variety of innovative educational technologies to support teaching and learning in foundational engineering courses. We are among the first group of faculty members who implemented clickers in engineering classrooms at USU. Research efforts have also been made to assess the effects of computer simulations and animations on student learning.

 

Faculty working in this area include:


Online Engineering Education

Online education can be highly rewarding and effective alternative method of learning especially in engineering-related disciplines. Furthermore, online learning offers flexibility and convenience while still retaining the integrity and academic rigor prescribed in traditional classroom learning experience. The state of online education is changing rapidly and much work needs to be done to improve students’ learning experience and ensure the quality of learning. Emerging issues in online learning research include online pedagogy (including online educational curriculum development), cutting-edge computer and Internet-based technologies that promote personalized and collaborative learning, and learning assessments.

student group working on project on desktop computer together

Our faculty and students have engaged in this research area with great success. Some studies that have been conducted include efforts to investigate student’s self-efficacy and metacognitive strategies while engaged in interactive learning modules, the role of students’ professional experience in online learning, and the effectiveness of students’ learning while they participate in broadcast delivery instruction. The Engineering Education (EED) department offers a course that facilitates our doctoral students to learn the development of a sound online educational curriculum that not only focuses on the technology but also the teaching and learning sides of the online instruction. The EED department has also initiated a preliminary effort to develop an online certificate program designed to give the participating students mastery in several theories and practicum-based topics in engineering education.

 

Faculty working in this area include:


K-12 STEM Education

Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education is a field of wide variety and unclear parameters. STEM education includes approaches that explore teaching and learning among any two or more of the STEM subject areas, and/or between a STEM subject and one or more other school subjects. The United States Department of Education defines STEM education programs as those primarily intended to provide support for, or to strengthen, STEM education at the elementary and secondary through postgraduate levels, including adult education. The EED department conducts research in many areas within STEM education to expand education research base. This includes engineering design thinking, cognition, meta-cognition, and problem-solving.

middle school student from Gear-up working on project

Importance

STEM education—is vital to our future—the future of our country, and the future of our children and is everywhere; it shapes our everyday experiences. Because STEM is so important we need to encourage students currently in our educational systems, as well as future generations of students, to understand and embrace it. Students should be advised on the merits of taking as many STEM courses in as possible, taught by engaged and enthusiastic teachers using hands-on and innovative activities. Making STEM courses fun, interesting, and meaningful will help students to learn, and potentially lead to exciting and rewarding STEM career. STEM education research can help determine how different instructional methods impact the classroom and promote STEM teaching and learning.

Teaching Section Overview

The Department of Engineering Education teaches foundational engineering courses for the pre-professional students in the College of Engineering and provides them relevant and sound learning experiences. The department strives to promote a University culture that values and rewards teaching, respects and supports individual differences among learners, and encourages the creation of learning environments in which diverse students can learn and excel.

Gear up student group working together

Our teaching includes student learning to develop the ability to create and synthesize knowledge; think critically and reflectively; master written communication skills; as well as oral communication skills; and demonstrate engineering skills. In order to help students develop these skill sets, we encourage them to find solutions by themselves, instead of simply giving them solutions. Opportunities for developing materials to demonstrate competencies occur in coursework and through prior education and/or experience.

Creating Quality Graduate Students:

To ensure that our graduate students are competitive upon graduation we build in them a sound foundation in engineering education, experience in classroom teaching and the ability to conduct rigorous research. We engage our graduate students in professional development; participate actively in the professional field of engineering education; teaching engineering, and apply their knowledge of instruction, curriculum design, and assessment of engineering science, problem-solving, and design appropriately. Through the content of the coursework required of all graduate students in the program, they gain the skills to make them competitive as the next generation of leaders.

 

Faculty working in this area include:


Engineering Workplace & Training

Students studying

As we prepare the next generation of global engineers as well as meet the requirements of 21st-century engineering professional competencies in ABET, it will be important to help engineering students learn about workplace practices and prepare them for the complex projects they will face. This area of research focuses on the spectrum of areas, from the research to the workplace, regarding the preparation of potential and current engineering students. In addition, preparation of pre-service teachers and in-service teachers as they help develop the next generation of professional engineers is considered in this research area.

 

Faculty working in this area include:


Undergraduate Research

The Engineering Education department engages undergraduate research assistants in many areas. Additionally, there are a variety of programs that offer distinct opportunities to students who wish to contribute and initiate research.

The engineering undergraduate research program (EURP) is designed to involve outstanding undergraduate students in research projects spanning data collection to refereed publication development. There are currently multiple students engaged with Engineering Education faculty to actively participate in the research process.

Faculty working with undergraduate student

The Undergraduate teaching fellows program (UTF) allows students to engage in a myriad of teaching capacities working with our faculty to improve the educational outcomes of our undergraduate courses. Often, these individuals are involved in and outside of the classroom in varying extents ranging from helping develop course materials to grading and hosting tutoring sessions. In addition, if the UTF is interested, he or she may participate in classroom-related research with the Engineering Education faculty member.

The Engineering Education department also hosts a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program, funded by the National Science Foundation, designed to introduce undergraduate students to Engineering Education research. Accepted candidates engage with faculty on a current research project and receive a summer stipend for the work.

Our undergraduate research students present and develop papers for Utah Conference on Undergraduate Research (UCUR), the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), Emerging Researchers Network (ERN), Posters on the Hill at Utah’s state Capitol, as well as Engineering Education conferences such as American Educational Research Association (AERA), Frontiers in Education (FIE), and American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)

 

Faculty working in this area include:


Broadening Participation in Engineering

 

 

Faculty working in this area include: