Dr. Alejandra J. Magana, assistant professor in the Department of Computer and Information Technology and of Engineering Education (by courtesy) at Purdue University, will present on Wednesday, October 23, 2013, as part of our Fall Seminar Series. The seminar will take place at 3:00pm in Maryland Hall 110. Graduate students are required to attend.
Towards an Educational Framework for the Integration of Discipline-Based Computing into Undergraduate Engineering Education
Computation is a form of representational media that is essential for the analysis and design of solutions to modern technological needs. Specifically in engineering domains, computation requires knowing when, why, and how computation methods work and do not, and applying or modifying existing numerical methods, methodologies or tools to successfully solve problems or design solutions.
Higher education, however, is not keeping pace with equipping undergraduate engineering students with computation literacy needed to solve problems in an existing or new application field. Current educational strategies at the undergraduate level frequently treat computing as a narrow technical tool that is commonly applied in isolation from related disciplinary topics. Therefore, in the same way as computational thinking is best realized in domain-specific and personally relevant contexts, and computational literacy has been identified as an effective medium for exploring other domains such as math and science; we argue that computation in science and engineering can enhance student representational fluency by supporting (a) comprehension of behavior of complex systems and (b) prediction of behaviors of new designs.
To develop computation literacy in science and engineering involves infusing computation across core disciplinary curricula. However, an efficient integration requires evidence-based insights. Educational research is needed to identify how students learn with and about computation so faculty will know which educational strategies, teaching methods and curricula are most effective for student learning.
This research agenda explores how students learn with computing and about computing. Our goal is to enhance the integration of computing into science and engineering disciplinary courses by developing evidence-based frameworks, tools, and pedagogical models and strategies with the intent to produce new theories, artifacts, and practices that can impact teaching, learning, and engagement. To accomplish this goal, we use design-based research, which consists of a series of approaches that allow to “engineer” and at the same time study particular forms of learning that will be subject to test, revision, and iteration.
Our initial results suggest the vast potential of integrating computing into disciplinary courses to support the development of conceptual understanding, inquiry skills and engineering design. However, these studies also suggest that when learning with computing, students need transparency of the simulation tools providing access to the underlying model; and when learning about computing, students need scaffolds to increase their representational fluency and to manage their cognitive overload. This presentation will provide an overview of series of studies that support these claims.
Dr. Alejandra J. Magana is an assistant professor in the Department of Computer and Information Technology and of Engineering Education (by courtesy) at Purdue University. Before her current position, she held a joint appointment as a visiting assistant professor in Computer and Information Technology and Engineering Education at Purdue University. She also was a postdoctoral research fellow for the Network for Computational Nanotechnology also at Purdue. Dr. Magana holds a Ph.D. in Engineering Education.
For more information about Dr. Magana’s research please visit: http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~admagana/rocketed/publications.html