The Partnership for Equity (P4E) project is funded under the NSF IUSE (Improving Undergraduate STEM Education) program. The goal of the project is to cultivate inclusive professional identities in engineering and computer science students. Students with inclusive professional identities will have: (a) the necessary technical knowledge, skills, and abilities to work in their chosen field, (b) an appreciation for how all kinds of diversity strengthen engineering and computer science as disciplines, and (c) knowledge of how to act in inclusive ways and create inclusive environments within their fields.
Project activities are currently occurring at four partner campuses. The project builds on a prior pilot grant and is driven by three primary objectives: (1) to transfer first-year diversity and inclusion activities to three new campuses; (2) to develop, implement and assess diversity and inclusion activities for engineering courses at the sophomore and junior level; and (3) to track students as they move through their degree programs to longitudinally assess the efficacy of the diversity and inclusion activities. Of note, the project espouses a broad definition of diversity (Page, 2007), which includes diversity in terms of problem-solving approaches, personalities, and demographic characteristics. cognitive, social, and person characteristics.
This poster will highlight significant products from the second year of the project with respect to four topics.
Activities to promote effective and inclusive teamwork
As we have expanded the project, many of the faculty interested in participating have wanted to improve how teams function in their classes. The specific needs mentioned by faculty members are (a) encouraging teams to value and welcome diversity and (b) working effectively in diverse teams. Several activities (n= 12) have been developed and are currently being piloted. For example, in one assignment students were asked to identify a product that did not work well for the entire population (e.g., the pen-tether on credit card screens is sometimes too short for left-handed people) and consider how to construct teams that are more likely to consider a wide variety of users. A second assignment addressed the need for psychological safety in teams via a case study of the NASA Columbia disaster. A third assignment had students watch TedX talks related to why diversity makes teams smarter and reflect on how the students should consider diversity in teams as a strength and a highly desirable quality.
Activities to teach students about diversity within the engineering context
This portion of the project has focused on developing activities that fit within technical engineering courses (with or without teamwork) and relate directly to the course content. The poster will discuss at least two example assignments. The first assignment is for Engineering Mechanics: Dynamics and asks students to consider the impact of seatbelts and airbags in car crashes and the effectiveness of these safety devices for different populations of people including drivers that are older or have larger bodies, children, and women . The second assignment is a more course flexible assignment that asks students to put themselves in the role of different design stakeholders for a product or process and to explore the privilege of various stakeholders. The assignment was first implemented for civil engineering students and will be adapted for other engineering disciplines and computer science students.
Efforts to engage and train faculty at each campus
The goals of this project cannot be achieved without increasing faculty understanding and appreciation for diversity, equity, and inclusion topics. This portion of the poster will describe opportunities and barriers to engaging faculty at all four project campuses. Each of the four campuses has unique opportunities and barriers related to the culture at each institution, the programs where implementation is occurring, and the students served by each institution.
Preliminary findings from project assessment
This section of the poster will highlight findings from across the project activities, including effectiveness of the first-year activities, and preliminary data describing the impact of teamwork and technical content based activities.
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