This Evidence-based Practice Paper describes the process of Engineering Learning, provides examples of specific practices used to implement Engineering Learning at <>, and highlights initial evidence for the positive impact of these practices across various levels of the institution.
Engineering Learning is an intentional design process in which faculty shift from the role of instructor, focused on delivery of content, to the role of designer and facilitator of learning. The design process is based on backwards design (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005) and connects to research-based teaching approaches by creating the space (time or pause) and probes to have faculty focus on thoughtful learning outcomes, aligning those with assessment and tasks, considering how to utilize talk and task designs to enhance student engagement and learning, and focusing on data-driven learning opportunities (Ambrose et. al., 2010; Biggs & Tang, 2011; Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000; Feder & Brent, 2016; Chi, 2009). It changes the conversation from one of “covering content” to one focused on student learning. Engineering Learning requires significant shifts in the ways teaching and learning are approached in higher education. The intent is to realign instruction with 1) current research-based approaches to teaching and learning, 2) changing student needs, 3) student passions and interests, and 4) the practices and understandings desired by industry and needed for the world of tomorrow.
To implement Engineering Learning at << PublicUniversity >>, we have developed and enacted several specific practices at the institutional, college, departmental, and faculty level. For example, at the institutional level, we have shifted the general perspective of faculty to that of designers of learning opportunities, leading to funding models that provide time for faculty to develop or revise existing courses. At the college and department level, we have facilitated workshops to help campus leaders identify ways to support their faculty as the faculty begin changing their teaching practices. At the level of faculty, 20% of our faculty have participated in our intensive, month-long professional learning experience focused on Engineering Learning and significantly engineering (redesigning) a course. These examples illustrate some of the specific practices we are using to introduce Engineering Learning across the institution.
We have collected several types of evidence to document the impact of these practices, including student outcomes, classroom observations, faculty and student surveys and interviews, and institutional changes in policy. Institutionally, both the president and the board of trustees provide strong support for the work of the teaching center. As another example, pre-post observation data points to changes in faculty practices, with faculty using more active learning in their courses after participating in the summer intensive. In terms of student outcomes, analysis of common exams in chemistry and calculus courses indicates that students taught by faculty who participated in our summer intensive outperform students taught by faculty who have not yet participated.
Taken together, data like this suggest that the framework of Engineering Learning and the practices used to implement it are positively shifting the conversations around teaching and learning.
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