DeBoer, J., & Gerschutz, M. J., & Evenhouse, D. A., & Patel, N., & Berger, E. J., & Stites, N., & Zywicki, C., & Nelson, D. B., & Krousgrill, C. M., & Rhoads, J. F. (2016, June), Transforming a Dynamics Course to an Active, Blended, and Collaborative Format: Focus on the Faculty Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27075
Date of this Version
Mechanical engineering programs are increasingly applying educational research by transforming courses to be more interactive and to use a blend of online and face-to-face materials. However, the process of an existing course adopting these new practices is not well studied, and even less is understood about the faculty experience from on-boarding to delivery of a new curriculum or pedagogy. In this study, we follow the translation of an active, blended, and collaborative (ABC) curriculum for a core dynamics course from a large public university (where the ABC curriculum was developed) to a small private university. We use interpretive phenomenology to focus on the lived experience of the instructor newly implementing these course materials, format, and pedagogical approach. Specifically, we address the following research questions: (1) What is the lived experience of a mechanical engineering instructor at a different institution as she adopts and adapts the provided materials and format? (2) How does the experience of this instructor evolve throughout the semester? We use rich qualitative data to understand the experience of the instructor, who taught this course in its prior format and, in Fall 2015, taught the “off-term” core dynamics course via the new ABC structure. Through weekly reflection prompts, pre- and post-semester interviews, and supplementary process data (e.g., notes of weekly meetings between the new implementer and ABC team at the large public university), we describe and characterize the multi-faceted instructor experience. This includes her experience learning about the curriculum and online tools, implementing the class and adjusting her teaching practices, and assessing her students’ engagement with the course and understanding of dynamics concepts. Our findings suggest further areas of inquiry for studies of faculty practices around curriculum adoption, including probing opportunities for cross-institutional collaborations to share materials and transform courses, interrogating variation in mechanical engineering department and student cultures, and studying sources of faculty development and support throughout the course transformation process.