The College of Engineering at Oregon State University, in collaboration with Oregon State Ecampus, aims to shape the future of engineering education with the launch of the Center for Research in Engineering Education Online.

Dubbed CREEdO by its founders, the center will conduct research, development, and innovation to inform Ecampus’ development of online programs in the field of engineering, said Tom Weller, head of the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and the center’s interim director.

CREEdO provides a community for engineering education research that is happening throughout the College of Engineering and leverages that expertise to advance online learning. This is a partnership with Ecampus that provides an opportunity to cover the full spectrum, from fundamental research to demonstration to full deployment.

The three research proposals funded by CREEdO for the 2021-2022 academic year are:

GenderMag-based Toolware and TrainingWare for “DeBiasing” COE Ecampus Courses

Principal Investigator: Margaret Burnett, distinguished professor of computer science

Co-Principal Investigator(s): Anita Sarma, associate professor of computer science; Lara Letaw, instructor, computer science

We propose to change online College of Engineering such that students have inclusive experiences. We will leverage GenderMag, a method for de-biasing technology, as follows:

Goal 1: Help College of Engineering faculty and Ecampus instructional designers create inclusive online courseware by:
  • creating an automated tool to evaluate and identify inclusivity issues in Canvas course navigation and structure, and assignments and student learning activities;
  • providing training on GenderMag concepts to enable faculty/designers find inclusivity issues in their courseware.
Goal 2: Educate College of Engineering faculty on how to integrate GenderMag concepts into their online College of Engineering curricula. Early pilots with on-campus CS faculty showed promise, with a few faculty blending GenderMag into their courses. We propose to generalize from these pilots by: (a) adapting to online programs and (b) broadening to College of Engineering courseware by:
  • providing faculty training on embedding GenderMag concepts into online College of Engineering courses, and
  • curating a pedagogy artifact repository of sample inclusive curricula, activities, quizzes, etc.

The proposed work has the potential to enable College of Engineering to become a leader in inclusive online education and to collaborate with College of Engineering faculty nationwide, and will serve as a basis for external grants.

A transformative study on the effectiveness of Extended Reality enhancing engineering education

Principal Investigator: Raffaele De Amicis, associate professor of computer science 

Co-Principal Investigators: Yelda Turkan, associate professor of geomatics; Onan Demirel, assistant professor of mechanical engineering

Extended Reality (XR) simulations and learning tools have been suggested to be effective means of enhancing conceptual thinking within engineering, while simultaneously addressing issues of motivation and social interaction. While there are numerous one-off instances of XR solutions being implemented in learning scenarios with some success, there has been little rigorous identification of the broad requirements necessary for the development and implementation of successful XR interventions across engineering disciplines. Revising existing teaching mediums to take advantage of new technologies is critical to improve the quality and equity of engineering education. This project proposes a study to increasing the scientific knowledge related to XR’s integration into engineering courses. Task one involves a design-based research approach to develop a functional learning module to be used across several engineering disciplines. Task two involves a formative assessment evaluating the effectiveness of the integrated XR module on engineering students’ learning of concepts related to spatial ability. Results from this assessment will be analyzed and disseminated through publications. The results will constitute a significant contribution to scientific knowledge relating to how XR can be integrated into classrooms, thereby providing guidance to educators / institutions who seek to benefit from these technologies to improve student engagement and learning.

Increasing engagement and access in STEM: Development of virtual laboratories that elicit engineering epistemic practices

Principal Investigator: Jeff Nason, professor of environmental engineering

Co-Principal Investigator and Home Unit: Milo Koretsky, McDonnell Family Bridge Professor, Tufts University

The project team will develop and assess the use of a virtual laboratory for (1) eliciting engineering epistemic practices not easily accomplished with in-person university laboratories and (2) increasing the accessibility of laboratory content for students studying in online environments. A virtual laboratory will be developed based on a physical lab (jar testing) common in most undergraduate and graduate environmental engineering programs. The team will partner with Oregon State University instructors to deliver both the physical and virtual versions of the jar testing laboratory, comparing student motivation, epistemic practices, and development of engineering identity through surveys and discourse analysis of video-recorded observations of teams. The expected outcomes of this work include an operable HTML- based version of the virtual laboratory; preliminary data regarding its efficacy and a comparison of student motivation and learning relative to an in-person lab; the development of partnerships outside of Oregon State; a proposal for external funding to further develop and expand this research; and publication of the preliminary work described herein.