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W348·DISTINGUISHED LECTURE: Rigor/Us: Merit Standards and Diversity in Engineering Education Research and PracticeDist. Lecture Liberal Education/Engineering & Society Division, Technological and Engineering Literacy/Philosophy of Engineering Division, and Minorities in Engineering Division
Wed. June 26, 2013 10:30 AM to 12:00 PM
A302, Georgia World Congress Center
Rigor is the aspirational quality academics apply to standards not only in engineering and engineering education, but in engineering education research. Our distinguished lecturer will critically examine rigor in three arenas:
a) The meaning of rigor across the constitutive disciplines of engineering, examining how standards shift with changes in social and historical context. The speaker will consider what constitutes rigor in relation to ABET learning outcomes, and how a broader conceptualization of rigor might lead to improved student achievement, especially in addressing core competencies such as lifelong learning, teamwork, communication, professional ethics, and design.
b) The emergence of “rigorous engineering education research” with a critical assessment of what this new conceptualization allows, and what it excludes. The speaker will discuss the conditions under which the engineering education research community adopted its current standards of rigor and compare these to standards in engineering and general (higher) education research.
c) “Who are we making engineering hard for?” What is the purpose of our current conceptualization of rigor in engineering and engineering education? In what ways does it promote and limit access to our profession? The speaker will discuss how the notion of rigor can reproduce inequality in upholding certain kinds of graduates as an implied standard in engineering.
For this talk, our distinguished speaker draws on her experiences as an engineering educator teaching in the core engineering science disciplines, and from her research into critical pedagogies as a tool for broadening participation in engineering.
Dr. Donna M Riley
Purdue University-Main Campus, West Lafayette (College of Engineering)
Donna Riley's technical research combines methods in engineering and the social sciences to characterize and communicate chemical risk. She seeks to integrate quantitative modeling of chemical risks (from sources to exposure endpoints) with an understanding of the ways in which human beliefs and behavior influence risk. Past projects have involved characterizing the risks of mercury use as part of religious and folk traditions in Latino and Caribbean communities, and developing improved consumer-product warnings. She is currently collaborating with Professor Shizuka Hsieh in Chemistry on developing a community-based air quality research lab serving groups in Western Massachusetts.
At Smith, Riley has developed a second area of expertise in engineering education. In 2005 Riley received a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation for implementing pedagogies of liberation, based on the work of Paulo Freire, bell hooks, and others, into engineering education. Aspects of liberative pedagogies that are operationalized in Riley's classrooms include connecting course material to student experience, emphasizing students as authorities in the classroom, integrating ethics and policy considerations in the context of social justice, problematizing science as objectivity, and de-centering western (and male) civilization.
Her work capitalizes on the intimate, creative and collaborative environment at Smith, where intentional learners grow into critical thinkers and reflective actors. She has developed these classroom innovations into a book of educational modules (Engineering Thermodynamics and 21st Century Energy Problems: A Textbook Companion for Student Engagement, Morgan and Claypool, 2012).
In 2008, Riley published Engineering and Social Justice [Morgan and Claypool], encouraging all engineers to seek social change. She is active in the engineering, social justice and peace network (esjp.org). In 2012, she also received the Sterling Olmsted Award, the highest award given by the Liberal Education/Engineering and Society Division of the American Society of Engineering Education.
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