Discovering Budapest with SEFI

Engineering teachers from all across Europe headed to Budapest last week for the annual SEFI conference to share state-of-the art research and cutting-edge teaching methods. SEFI is the European Society for Engineering Education and this was the fourth time I attended the group’s annual conference.

As the annual SEFI meeting is one of the most interesting, informative and welcoming conferences you can encounter, engineering teachers from many corners of the globe–notably Australia, China, and the USA– joined as well.  The conference program includes many workshops, paper presentations, keynote addresses and plenty of fun social events.

This year, I helped lead three workshops and one special interest group meeting. I’ve uploaded photos of the activities where I was most involved.

Physical Computing

Here’s a glimpse of the workshop on Physical Computing I helped organize and run with my colleagues from TU Dublin–Paula Hannon, Damon Berry, and Mick Core. The title was “Physical Computing: A low-cost project-based approach to engineering education” and our abstract explained “One of the current trends in engineering education, often due to costs, is to use simulation software for the design and analysis of systems. However, using simulation packages as an alternative to real-world equipment may lead to a lack of student engagement and confidence, thereby reducing the impact of learning. This workshop presents an alternative mode of module delivery that facilitates practice-based learning, where students get hands-on practical computing using inexpensive, yet real-world equipment and technologies that can help transform notional self-directed learning to actual learning. In this workshop, participants will discuss the philosophy, rationale, and techniques used to teach Physical Computing at one Technological University.”

Phenomenography

The workshop UCL hosted on phenomenography, taught by Mike Miminiris, with assistance from Inês Direito and me was well attended and we all learned new techniques:

Engineering Education Research group

Here are a few pics of the special interest group meeting on Engineering Education Research, led by the EER WG  coordinator Tinne De Laet:

Being an Effective Peer Reviewer

We also held a workshop on reviewing manuscripts for journals as an effective peer reviewer, lead alongside the editors-in-chief of three of the top journals in engineering education worldwide–Kristina Edström, Lisa Benson, and John Mitchell–along with deputy editors Maartje van den Bogaard and Jonte Bernhard, and associate editors Adam Carbury and myself:

The delegation from UCL

Here’s a set of photos of the UCL crew at SEFI, and some of the other presentations UCL folks made:

Fun and learning combined

And now for some entertaining pics–some of the conference in general, and others featuring the very fun gala abroad a river cruise and the post-conference city sightseeing tour led by local architects:

 

Mighty Dublin Makers

img_6580-1I took to the air, heading from London to Dublin to get trained up as a mentor in TU Dublin’s staff development program and also lend a hand at this year’s Dublin Maker fair in Merrion Square.

img_6473-1The School of Electrical and Electronics Engineering hosted two booths: one on Co-design for technologies to increase access to folks with varying capabilities, and the second on the theme “Timewarp Arcade.”

The Timewarp booth featured arcade games across the decades from Victorian Times up to the mid 1980s. An automated talking head (with moving eyes and jaws) was designed by Shane Ormond. The head could tell which card a visitor picked and interact with the visitor in real-time.

There was a Rock-Scissors-Paper machine designed to beat its human competitors.

img_6529-1A strength test demonstrated how those old-time hammer games were rigged. This display included a heart rate checker.

Frank Duignan contributed palm-sized arcade games and automated name badges.

Here are some images our colleague Paul Stacey, from Blanchardstown campus of TU Dublin, Tweeted of his sons at our booth:

Padraig built a large-scale early 80s arcade game.

And finally, a photo booth that I helped run, designed by Ted Burke, created customized retro album covers, circa 1985. This display showed how green screen works. Visitors could dress in green to create the illusion that their heads were floating in mid-air.

img_6501All in all, it was an interesting, fun, and rewarding day. Until, of course, I got to the airport to find my evening Ryanair flight out of Dublin delayed multiple hours. Cheap but not so easy to use!

Focus on Student Development

Our new special focus journal is out!

This is a major part of my Marie Curie fellowship, because I wanted (a) to learn more about publishing and (b) build the knowledge base regarding “student development” in engineering.

I’m particularly interested in identity development and epistemic cognition (how students think about knowing and what knowledge is). I am myself working on a major research project exploring these epistemic topics, but with this journal issue I helped provide other people who are working on similar topics a place to publish their work.

It’s a really nice set of papers–three on identity and five on epistemology, with an introductory statement up front which I wrote with the people I brought on board as guest editors. The editorial team spent the past 18 months on this project–getting authors invited, articles competatively selected then carefully reviewed and enhanced.

You may remember that we issued a call for papers about 18 months ago. We managed to keep the whole project on track schedule-wise and the final printed version came out in August 2019, a full four months before I’d promised the funders I’d deliver it!!!!! How often will I get to say something like that!? Delighted to have the chance now.

Here’s the introductory statement:

Practical Epistemic Cognition in a Design Project—Engineering Students Developing Epistemic Fluency

Jonte Bernhard Anna-Karin Carstensen Jacob Davidsen Thomas Ryberg

Teacher Learner, Learner Teacher: Parallels and Dissonance in an Interdisciplinary Design Education Minor

Desen S. Ozkan Lisa D. Mcnair Diana Bairaktarova

Here’s an official overview of the issue:

“This Special Issue of the IEEE Transactions on Education focuses on using enquiry-based design projects to spur engineering students’ development, so as to increase understanding and application of the relevant theories, foster higher rates of student development and achieve this in healthy and productive ways.

Each of the eight papers in this Special Issue focuses on a specific aspect, presenting an empirical research study on either epistemological or identity development among engineering students. Five of the papers are on epistemological development or ‘epistemic cognition,’ and three on identity development. The overall set of resources is presented so engineering educators can gain familiarity with existing theories on how students change and grow over their university years, and can consider the findings of empirical studies and what these might imply for their own teaching and for their students’ learning.”

https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/8786829

If you’ve got a manuscript you’d like to publish with this journal, you can find links on the website of the IEEE Education Societyhttp://ieee-edusociety.org/about/ieee-transactions-education. Or, feel free to drop me a line at <irelandbychance dot com> to ask advice–I’m an Associate Editor of this journal.

Fostering Inclusivity in Engineering Education in the South African Context

img_5642-1I spent the first week of July in South Africa, facilitating a two-day Master Class on “Fostering Inclusivity in Engineering Education in the South African Context” and then attending the Research in Engineering Education Symposium, REES 2019, which adopted the theme “Making Connections.” In this blog, I’ll tell you about the workshop and show you photos from the workshop and our travels to Cape Town, where my closest collegue, Inês, and I had a day to explore before heading out to the workshop location.

Fostering inclusivity in engineering education means creating learning environments that are welcoming to everyone, and where all members have equitable access to learning. We asked: How do we support the creation of inclusive environments for all engineering education stakeholders?

img_5752Our interactive Inclusivity workshop focused on supporting engineering educators wanting either to develop inclusive learning and teaching environments or to research the effectiveness of their interventions.

The workshop was facilitated by Shanali Govender from the University of Cape Town (UCT) alongside Inês Direito and myself from University College London (UCL). In addition, John Mitchell (from UCL) and Brandon Collier-Mills (from UTC) provided panel presentations and Mohohlo Tsoeu (UTC) was part of our planning sessions.

This was the eighth and last of a series of EEESCEP workshops. This one was held at Spier Wine Farm, Stellenbosch–a glorious place to visit even during South Africa’s winter!

img_5813-2Twenty-five engineering teachers from all over South Africa attended the workshop and the discussions were truly insightful.

As nervous as I had been leading up to the event–having visited South Africa previously to both study the history of Apartheid in the built environment and grow my understanding of the country’s tumultuous past–this workshop turned out amazingly well.

Participants came in with an endearing openness and desire to make engineering education more welcoming for all. They welcomed the facilitators warmly and openly as well. We all benefited from hearing new perspectives and giving serious thought to things we might do to improve the situation in engineering education, where white male norms predominate.

img_5831-1Drawing on participants’ own experiences with teaching and conducting research in engineering education, we encouraged participants to engage with contemporary and global issues related to inclusivity within engineering education and consider emerging research. Participants reflected upon their own practices and identified inclusivity aims and goals.

Discussions helped all of us identify barriers to inclusivity and develop ways to remove barriers in practice. A participant described the event this way:

The facilitators were excellent in their delivery of the doctrine of inclusivity to engender seeds for policy formulation, innovation, development and practice of engineering education in an ever-changing world.

It is worthy of note that the workshop has begun to provoke a silent revolution in teaching, learning, and research that will seek to enhance economic, social, scientific, infrastructural and holistic development of South Africa, and the world at large in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The discussion on Inclusivity seeped over into the REES activities, as many of the participants, facilitators, and presenters from the EEESCEP workshop continued on, from the workshop to REES, which started the day after our workshop ended. Being part of both events helped me build stronger ties to the engineering teachers in South Africa and I eagerly await more opportunities to work with them on projects.

Sightseeing in Cape Town

Inclusivity Master Class

Publishing Discount for SEFI Members

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Good news shining through a rainy day in London.

I was on the bus from London South Bank University this morning, headed to University College London when good news arrived, shining through an otherwise cold and rainy day. The Editor-in-Chief of the European Journal of Engineering Education  (EJEE), Dr. Kristina Edström, forwarded me an email from the publishing house, Taylor and Francis, regarding costs for purchasing “Gold” level open access in the journal.

 

The change will enable SEFI members to save $500 off the cost of Gold access and the publishers will implement a change tonight–when they reboot their system. Information about the discount will then be included on the T&F web page for EJEE (although the T&F code for the journal is actually CEEE). Info about how to secure the discount will also be provided by the EJEE editors (Kristina, along with her deputy editors, Dr. Maartje van den Bogaard and Prof. Jonte Bernhard) when they send the formal acceptance email to authors.

SEFI–the European Society for Engineering Education—is the organising body behind EJEE. There are individual memberships available, but it’s more typical for an institution to join. Because I am affiliated with UCL and TU Dublin, which are both SEFI members, I am also a member of SEFI. There’s a full list of member organisation on the SEFI website.

Here’s what the publishers’ rep said:

Hi Kristina,

I hope that you are very well today.

I’m just picking up on your email to Rachel regarding the discounted APC for SEFI members and promoting this a bit more widely. I have added this information to the Instructions for Authors page under the Open Access heading, and to the Society Information page as below:

  • IFAs:image001
  • Society Informationimage002

These changes to the journal pages will go live overnight once our servers update. Do let me know if any tweaks to the wording are required. If it doesn’t appear already, it might be something worth advertising also somewhere on the SEFI website—do let me know if you would like T&F’s help with this.

For your reference, the relevant clause in the contract regarding this APC discount for SEFI members is screenshotted below:

image008

Please do not hesitate to get back in touch if there’s anything else I can help with.

All best wishes,
Jess

I’m glad I was able to help push this along, so SEFI members can realise savings. I stuck with this effort, first as a curious author, and second as a member of EJEE’s Editorial Board. I’m feeling today like I added a bit of value to the SEFI community.

Kristina celebrated with a Tweet letting the world know:

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img_2419As for my own article (the one I blogged about yesterday) I haven’t decided if I’ll upgrade to Gold. I’ve discovered there’s a 12-month embargo for the current access level I have (Green), and after 12 months I can post the official version of the paper. Perhaps the 50 free copies I’m allowed to give out will suffice until then, since most colleagues will have access to the article via their university libraries.

The full cost to obtain Gold access for my paper would be about €2395, according to an estimate I received from the platform a couple weeks ago. The $500 discount equates to €446, so the total cost for open access would still be head-spinning, at about €1950.

Yes, it’s true. Many people don’t know that authors typically must pay to publish their writing in top-notch journals. Fortunately, with EJEE, there’s no cost to authors if they go the Green route. However, for Gold (fully and immediately open) access to the public, there is a charge.

EJEE is pretty special in regard to offering Green access for free. The other top journals in the field of engineering education research (EER) charge. For the Journal of Engineering Education (JEE), organised by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), it costs the author around $60 per page to publish (and there isn’t a free route other than requesting a special exception for extenuating circumstances). I hope I can figure out how to pay the fee when I get an article accepted there.

Today, I’m celebrating small victories.

New article published! Implementing PBL and comparing research methods.

My article, Comparing grounded theory and phenomenology as methods to understand lived experience of engineering educators implementing Problem-Based Learning, was just published by the European Journal of Engineering Education!

The abstract identifies the topic and its relevance to engineering education:

Getting lecturers/professors to implement pedagogical innovations is a central focus of university managers/administrators today. Convincing teachers to change is notoriously hard. This research project investigated the shift in pedagogical approach among a small group of faculty as they replaced traditional lecture-based methods with Problem-Based Learning projects. Interviews were conducted with eight of the most active drivers of this change, around the research question: What was it like to be part of a learning group focused on tangible change toward student-centered learning? Objectives of this study were: (1) to understand how pedagogical changed happened in an electrical engineering programme at a post-secondary institution in Ireland; (2) to analyse data using two different research methods to distill as much meaning as possible; (3) to describe the process, results, and findings achieved using each method; and (4) to compare and contrast the methods, asking: To what extents do the research methods of grounded theory and phenomenology fit our data and yield relevant and useful findings? Results of this mixed-methods approach show that fun, enjoyment, camaraderie, and a sense of ownership of the change at the ground level were essential to driving transformation. With regard to analysing this specific dataset, we found grounded theory to produce more helpful outcomes (including a graphic model of change). Because interviews had been conducted two years after the events under analysis, the interview comments were inherently reflective and, as it turns out, not as conducive to phenomenological methodologies which seek to understand raw, pre-reflective experience. This report should be of particular use to (a) teachers and administrators strategizing change and (b) engineering education researchers assessing the applicability of various methods.

I spearheaded the project but had assistance from Gavin Duffy in lining up interviews and conducting phenomenological analysis and enjoyed supervisory support from Brian Bowe.

You can access a pre-print here: Comparing grounded theory and phenomenology as methods to understand lived experience of engineering educators implementing Problem-Based Learning. I tried very hard to purchase an upgrade to “Gold” access so I could post the final published version online, and as a SEFI member, I am supposed to get a discount on this service from the publisher. Unfortunately, Taylor and Francis haven’t sorted out how to organize the discount yet, so I’m only able to post the text version I submitted to EJEE for peer review. The published version is available through most university libraries (using DOI: 0.1080/03043797.2019.1607826). However, if you’re interested in citing the published version but you lack access to it, please contact me. I am allowed to share the published version with a few dozen people, and T&F provided me a link for doing that.

This was a complex study and took quite a few years to bring to publication. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who supported this project–most especially my coauthors and the folks I interviewed at TU Dublin. I’d also like to thank the funders. First, data collection and transcription (conducted in 2012 and 2013) were supported by a grant provided by the Fulbright Commission in Ireland along with Dublin Institute of Technology. Second, data analyses were supported by a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) fellowship from the European Union (in 2014-2016) via Call identifier: FP7-PEOPLE-2013-IIF, Project 629388, Project acronym: REESP, Project title: Re-Engineering Europe’s STEM Pipeline. Finally, work to get this published with its unique slant of using two different methods and comparing the outcomes (conducted in 2018 and 2019) was supported via a second MSCA fellowship, Call identifier: H2020-MSCA-IF-2016, Project 747069, Project acronym: DesignEng, Project title: Designing Engineers: Harnessing the Power of Design Projects to Spur Cognitive and Epistemological Development of STEM Students.

This information can help if you want to cite the article:

Shannon Chance, Gavin Duffy & Brian Bowe (2019): Comparing grounded theory and phenomenology as methods to understand lived experience of engineering educators implementing problem-based learning, European Journal of Engineering Education, DOI: 0.1080/03043797.2019.1607826

Vivacious Vienna: Hundertwasser

I was an exchange student to Switzerland in 1994, and my first host “mom,” Esther Sterchi-Wyss, loved the architect Hundertwasser. I arrived at her home never having heard of the designer despite having more than six years of university-level architecture education.

Hundertwasser, you see, is self-made. A craftsman-turned-architect. His work wasn’t taught in modernist schools of architecture at the time, but he had certainly hit a chord with Esther, who had postcards and posters of his vibrant buildings posted in her Ferenberg kitchen.

It’s a bit odd not to have heard of him, as his work is in the same realm as Barcelona’s Gaudi, whose work I’d made pilgrimages to visit. Nevertheless, I had not.

While I was in Vienna this past February for the 2019 MCAA-General Assembly, I had the chance to visit three Hunderwasser creations.

It was just a brief encounter, but I enjoyed the joy and playfulness I found. And I finally understood Esther’s fascination. I hope you’ll enjoy seeing some of the images I collected during my brief visit.

Sites where you can see Hundertwasser’s work

Apartment block in Vienna

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Hunderwasser Village 

Kunsthaus Wein

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Vivacious Vienna: Exploring the City

During my February trip to Vienna for the MCAA General Assembly, I had the chance to look around the city center as well as some sectors not far from the center.

Vienna is an architect’s dreamland, full of beautiful spaces and artifacts old and new. In fact, the architect/urbanist/painter/historian Camillo Sitte documented many of the world’s most successful plazas in his quest to define what makes a public space beautiful. Many of his favorites plazas are located in Vienna. I often referenced his book “The Art of Building Cities”, published in 1945, when I was an architecture student and later an architecture professor.

Although I actually only had six hours to explore Vienna after the Assembly concluded, I took in plenty of sites. Below, I’ve posted my slide shows of spectacular architecture.

The slide shows start in Alservorstadt, with the Votive Church (Votivkirche), Hotel Regina, and University of Vienna. The slides proceed downtown and show visits to two more churches (Stephansdom and Der Graben), concluding with the Globe Museum. In other posts, I share photos from Hundertwasser and Otto Wagner ‘s Austria Post Headquarters or “Osterr Postparkasse” (blog forthcoming).

Votive Church (Votivkirche) 

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Hotel Regina

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The University of Vienna

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Vienna City Center

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Stephansdom

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Der Graben

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Globe Museum

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Marie Curie Alumni Association–2019 General Assembly

This year, for the first time, I attended the Marie Curie Alumni Association (MCAA) General Assembly. It was held at the University of Vienna at the end of February. I represented the newly founded Irish chapter. I’m also a member of the UK chapter, having served as a Marie Curie Research Fellow in both the UK and Ireland.

This was a great opportunity to learn about research other people are doing around the continent and meet researchers from all over the world. I have a new understanding of the slogan “Researchers on the Move” and I see how truly dynamic are the researchers who travel from country to country to help answer questions and solve problems. We learned support for researchers and we got to discuss the challenges and joys of being traveling researchers.

Today, I’m working with a prospective MSCA fellow to craft his application, and I’m using what I learned at the General Assembly. I’m encouraging him to attend if he’s selected as a grant recipient because its a great way to connect with resources and the research of others.

I’ve attached some photos of 2019 events and some of the Tweets I posted during the General Assembly.

 

Learning London: Celebrating St. Patrick

We’ve had a lovely St. Patrick’s weekend here in central London.

Yesterday, we visited the National Portrait Gallery to see “Only Human” by photographer Martin Parr. After lunch at Chipotle, some gelato and hot chocolate to honour my dad, and a quick break at The Courthouse Hotel, we got to the Photographers’ Gallery for the last hour (for free entry!) to view a show I’d found don Time Out and another to boot.

We ended Saturday at Backyard Comedy with four hilarious comedians.

Our Art Fund pass and memberships with Tate and Backyard are really paying off!

We learned a lot this weekend about being British, thanks in no small part to Martin Parr. Here’s a selection of photos from yesterday:

Today, we breakfasted beside Whitechapel Gallery, walked to the Tower of London, took the boat down to Embankment and walked to Tate Britain. We visited two photographers’ exhibitions–seeing the second half of photojournalist Don McCullin’s show (we hadn’t allotted enough time in our first visit). Then we took a double decker bus over to Trafalgar Square, enjoyed lunch at Thai Spice, and took in the last hour of the city-sponsored St. Patrick’s Day music festival.

While it feels surreal to sing Irish Republican songs in Trafalgar Square, particularly because it’s not considered entirely kosher to sing such songs in Dublin these days, we truly felt our love for Ireland by singing along–without having to love London any less!

Ireland’s Call by Phil Coulter 

Come the day and come the hour

Come the power and the glory

We have come to answer Our Country’s call

From the four proud provinces of Ireland

CHORUS

Ireland, Ireland

Together standing tall

Shoulder to shoulder

We’ll answer Ireland’s call

From the mighty Glens of Antrim

From the rugged hills of Galway

From the walls of Limerick And Dublin Bay

From the four proud provinces of Ireland

CHORUS

Hearts of steel, and heads unbowing

Vowing never to be broken

We will fight, until We can fight no more

From the four proud provinces of Ireland

Aongus and I were making the most of our last day together for a while. I’m heading home to Virginia help my Dad who hasn’t been well.

We ended the day at the Blind Beggar, site of a notorious gang murder long ago (see the plaque for further explanation). I’d not been there before, despite it being just blocks from our London home.

Photos from today: