My research experiences have focused on efforts to support first-year engineering students. This includes research examining students understanding of core engineering concepts, such as those in Statics and Heat Transfer courses, as well as examining student involvement in activities outside of the classroom. I believe that it is important to support students both in and out of the classroom and provide students with experiences that can help them relate content learned in the classroom to experiences outside the classroom. This page describes my research areas in greater depth.
Engineering Students’ Professional Development in Living-Learning Communities
Living-learning environments have increased in popularity on college campuses as ways to support students and to connect what students learn in the classroom with their experiences outside the classroom as well. These communities are often centered around a topic or theme, such as communities for engineering students, and they provide programming designed to support the intended student population. My dissertation examines the activities in these environments that students perceive support their professional development. In my study, I interviewed students who had participated in an engineering living-learning community to determine the various ways that students defined professional development and the various experiences that students perceive helped them develop professionally. This understanding will help educators who aim to help students prepare for and enter the engineering workforce.
Building effective interventions: A model for the design and modification of out-of-class interventions for undergraduate engineering students
In recent years, educators have incorporated intentionally designed learning environments, also known as interventions, to support engineering students. These interventions are often incorporated into out-of-class activities to supplement what students learn in the classroom. While research has focused on and examined outcomes of these interventions, there is a need for a framework that can be used by engineering educators when designing interventions for students. In this project, I developed a framework that includes various components that should be considered when designing, developing, and modifying sustainable interventions that promote student learning in these contexts.
Co-Curricular Experiences for Engineering Students
Several projects have examined co-curricular experiences (experiences designed to complement what students learn in the classroom) for engineering students. In particular, this work has focused on engineering student support centers, which are programs designed to offer of co-curricular support to students from traditionally underrepresented groups in engineering, and the structure of these programs.
Conceptual Understanding in Engineering Courses
Certain courses in the engineering curriculum, such as statics and heat transfer, have the reputation of being particularly difficult and contain concepts that are difficult to grasp. Therefore, several projects that I have worked on have examined students’ understanding of important concepts in these courses. This work has examined the incorporation of a hands-on laboratory component and the incorporation of writing assignments into technical engineering courses to facilitate student understanding in these classes.