Improving the Educational Experience of Students at Hispanic-Serving Institutions Across the Country

A group of faculty from the University of Miami’s College of Engineering were awarded a National Science Foundation grant for their proposal to engage engineering educators from Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) through a series of workshops.

The awards are part of the NSF’s effort to enhance the quality of undergraduate education for Hispanic students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at HSIs.

The group, led by Dr. Ines Basalo, assistant professor in practice in the CoE’s Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, also includes Dr. Derin Ural, CoE professor in practice and associate dean for student affairs; and Ms. Gemma Henderson, senior instructional designer from UM Academic Technologies. They teamed up alongside University of Texas El Paso Assistant Professor of Engineering Education Meagan Kendall and Olin College Assistant Professor of Systems Design and Engineering Dr. Alexandra Coso Strong to co-create a series of traveling workshops that will target engineering educators from HSIs, who often lack the necessary resources to attend conferences.

This collaboration was the result of the Active Learning Initiative at the College. As part of this initiative, Dr. Basalo, Dr. Ural and Ms. Henderson attended the Collaboratory Summer Institute at Olin College in June 2017, where Dr. Coso-Strong was an instructor.

“The focus on these workshops will be to leverage design thinking methodologies to better understand the HSI institutional context and co-develop research needs with educators through an iterative and emergent analysis process,” Basalo explains.

The proposal was one of only seven winning projects announced by the NSF and the only successful proposal from Florida for 2018. Florida and Texas have some of the highest concentrations of HSIs in the country.

The 2-day workshops will take place at the University of Texas El Paso in March 2018 and at the University of Miami in April 2018. The goal of the workshops is to assist participants in developing educational methods or program prototypes that will positively impact the experiences of their students.

“Participants will implement their prototypes at their respective institutions and record any emerging questions and needs concerning the educational experiences of their students,” Basalo says.

A follow-up workshop at the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) in June 2018 will give participants an opportunity to share the successes and failures of their prototypes, shedding light on non-obvious research needs.

“Overall, we want to be able to identify what the needs of the HSI are and engage educators in the engineering education research and scholarship process,” says Basalo. “With this project, we expect to produce a series of research questions to support the NSF’s development of an HSI-focused research agenda, with the goal of enhancing the quality of undergraduate STEM education at HSIs.”

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