Here we report on data collected for a project in which five new web-based lines of study, referred to as Elective Units, were developed by engineering faculty members with expertise in topics related to the NAE Grand Challenges.1 In a previous communication,2 we described the rationale, development scheme and topical content of the Elective Units. In this work we summarize selected results for the first full-scale offering of the Elective Units to a large cohort of students (400+) enrolled in an undergraduate engineering program. The Units were designed to give freshmen and prospective engineering students, many of whom are still in high school, an opportunity to explore topics of their choice in the engineering foundation course, Introduction to Engineering, offered by the University of Arizona (UA). The selection of topics was based on a Grand Challenges Interest Survey administered to 100+ freshmen engineering students, as part of the groundwork for the project. Students participating in the Interest Survey were asked to investigate the fourteen Grand Challenges for Engineering established by the National Academy of Engineering and indicate which challenges captured their interests. The five new Elective Units were modeled after a pilot Unit that was developed and successfully delivered in Spring 2010 as a result of a Learner-Centered Course Redesign Innovation Grant, funded by the Arizona Board of Regents. The learning in the Units is experiential in that each Unit allows students to address, first-hand, various types of problems that engineers attempt to solve. The activities require students to use a variety of tools to investigate the topics in order to establish a foundation of knowledge. Students are encouraged to further investigate topics and make connections to the societal, global, environmental and economic context that frame the Grand Challenge. The assignments are designed to motivate students to engage in higher-level thinking. Vignettes, i.e. short videos, describing each challenge and emphasizing the important role that engineers play in solving these challenges, were recorded. In addition, detailed written descriptions of the Units were developed. Students use the vignettes and reference materials to decide which Elective Unit(s) they wish to study. They then have the opportunity to devote four weeks of the semester, roughly one Carnegie unit of effort, to the exploration of the topic by making use of the cyberinfrastructure.
|Original language||English (US)|
|State||Published - Sep 24 2013|
|Event||120th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Atlanta, GA, United States|
Duration: Jun 23 2013 → Jun 26 2013
|Other||120th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition|
|Period||6/23/13 → 6/26/13|
ASJC Scopus subject areas