Published in Advances in Engineering Education, Volume 2, Issue 4, Summer July 1, 2011, pages 1-31.
Copyright © 2011 American Society for Engineering Education.
This paper represents a narrative of the process of department-level reform through the eyes of the initiating agent of change. Over the course of reform, our program has grown by 40%, primarily through retaining students. We exhibit a 10% net important rate of engineering students in the first two years of the curriculum relative to the college’s 5% mean export rate. Student freshmen SAT scores also indicate that we are attracting students with more balanced learning interests. The design of our Department Level Reform grant was to advance the knowledge of how to design engineering learning experiences that accomplish two social imperatives: retaining women and other underrepresented groups in the engineering degree programs; and equipping engineers to solve the technical challenges in the context of our complex global society. There is evidence that we are fulfilling our aims, but time will tell. This paper is focused on the impact that our reforms have had on the faculty. In the process of reform, I have emerged with these convictions: 1. Decisions are not made by data but by examining consequences against our values; 2. Humans should not be viewed or treated like mechanistic objects; 3. Structural changes that do not proceed from changes in mental models will not survive; 4. The anxiety around change must be mindfully managed at multiple stakeholder levels; and 5. Sustained change requires interactions with external agents. In this paper, I chronicle the process of change, the agents of change, their actions, and some of the results by the numbers. I also reflect on the meaning and provide recommendations.
Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Materials Science and Engineering