This card describes the framework of a project, designed for an undergraduate engineering course where students' curiosity is challenged to identify cases of non-inclusive engineering designs and work in teams to propose a solution to the flawed designs using the concepts they learned within the class or outside class. In this assignment, students share their personal experiences of exposure to a biased design as a story with their teammates (see this card) where they discuss the importance and impact of each design, both on a personal and societal level. Potentially a connection could be created between the personal experiences and the topics students choose which acts as an intrinsic motivation tool to work as a team to create value for the negatively affected people.
This project provides a platform for any engineering student to demonstrate their 3Cs. For the first time this assignment was executed in a major-required second-year analytically-focused biomedical engineering course called “Conservation Principles in Biomedical Engineering”; but the scope of resources shared here, can be customized for any engineering course. Also, based on class size, available infrastructures in the institutions, and format of the class (virtual, in-person, or hybrid) the instructors can modify the logistics or pace of the project phases. The quality of the artifacts significantly improved when students worked as groups of four. To evaluate the effectiveness of integrating EM using this project two implementation schedule was used. In the first approach the project was executed in two consecutive weeks at the end of semester. In the second approach, the project was dispersed through the semester. Both students and instructors found the second method more effective.
Brainstorming: students are asked to work on their own to look for examples of non-inclusive (biased, flawed) designs.
Story 1 (motivation): they share a case of a flawed design that personally affected them or a loved one. In this story, they identify whom the existing process or design was intended to create value for, how bias affected the design, and how this impacted the person they are reflecting about. By having students tell a personal story we hope to make the impact of non-inclusive designs seem more real to them and to increase their motivation and sense of connection to the project.
Case study: each student on the team shares their ideas for what they can work on together as a team. The team is tasked with identifying a flawed non-inclusive engineering design they’d like to learn more about and then developing a case study designed to inform and motivate members of the lay public about the flawed design and affected people.
Story 2: each team member should write a creative story that illustrates, in an emotionally evocative and concrete way, how the flawed design (the one that they studied) has negatively impacted an individual or group of people.
Proposal: the team create an engineering proposal for how to rectify the shortcomings of the existing design. To complete the second report, students use the engineering skills learned in the course to analyze the original design and to propose a new solution or a modification to the existing design, that will create value for the individuals who were not well-served by the original design. The objective of this part of the project is to allow students to see how the skills they have learned in the course can help them better understand how the design works, as well as how to improve it.
Story 3: each team member should write a hypothetical story about a positive transformation that can happen to the affected user, if the proposal's modifications are executed successfully. This story should have technical details and have a professional audience.
Presentation: (TED talk meets elevator pitch) the students present their work in a 2 minutes pitch presentation, addressing what was the value they created? why they think that is important? How they they want to solve the issue?
Based on our experience of running this project for multiple semesters, we can recommend the following points:
Our mindset: It is important to communicate with your students about the value that they are going to create by completing this project. Your goal should be training of engineers who are value makers. In addition to that you want them to consider all the demographic groups, when they make assumptions for their designs.
Scope: It is important that your students select the problems (research topics) that are within the scope of your class. Given the fact that inclusivity of an engineering design has multiple aspects, students may need your advise to pick an aspect that can be analyzed based on learning objectives of your course. There must be a balance between novelty and the concepts you are working on in your class. Sometimes students prefer to work on a topic that is too basic, and sometimes they pick a topic that can not be addressed within the time frame of a course. To resolve this issue, you can ask your students to consult with you about the topics they want to work on.
Grading scheme: You should make sure your students are aware of your grading policies while you are presenting the project to them. We used the specification grading system (Nilson 2014). In this grading system, each assignment is broken down into several sections and each section consisted of several specifications. Based on the quality of each specification, they receive a pass/fail grade for that specification. A partial credit should not be awarded for that specification. Based on your grading policies and class structure, you can give your students a chance of resubmission.
Scheduling: We have used two different scheduling approaches when we implemented this project in our course. In the first approach we executed the project, in two consecutive weeks at the end of semester. In this approach students were completely familiar with our course's learning objectives so the topics and projects they worked on, were not significantly deviated from the scope of class. But the main challenge was the time management. In our second approach we distributed the project's different phases through the semester. In the second approach we noticed a significant improvement in the quality of the artifacts that students created. Also, the end of class surveys showed instructors and students preferred the second approach.
We reported some of our works here:
KEEN national conference workshop based on this concept:
Social Justice and Entrepreneurially Minded Learning: Who are we creating value for?(2021 KNC Session)
ASEE 2020 article:
WIP:A Case Study of Integrating Inclusive Engineering Skills into a Middle-years Biomedical Engineering Course via Model-based Reasoning
ASEE 2021 article (under review):
WIP: Integration of inclusive mindset in a middle-year biomedical engineering course: a study over healthcare disparities via Story Driven Learning
Useful and relevant works:
Gendered Innovations project
The Global Health Delivery Project at Harvard University
CDC technical report: Community Needs Assessment
Needs Assessment in Public Health: A Practical Guide for Students and Professionals
We also want to thank our students who have participated in this project and helped us with their feedback. In the survey that we gave at the end of Spring semester, 42% of our students directly mentioned this project as the best aspect of their class. Their comments can be summarized in the following quote:
|Project's framework||Photo / Graphic||.pptx||6/24/2021||73 KB|
|Daily plan for phase 1||Instructor Notes||6/24/2021||79.5 KB|
|Daily plan for phase 2||Instructor Notes||6/24/2021||113.1 KB|
|Lecture note 1||Presentation||6/24/2021||1.1 MB|
|Lecture note 2||Presentation||6/24/2021||3.8 MB|
|00- Brain storming||Activity / Handout||6/24/2021||122.3 KB|
|01-Story 1||Activity / Handout||6/24/2021||139.6 KB|
|02-Phase 1 Handout||Activity / Handout||6/24/2021||276.3 KB|
|03-Phase 1 Rubric||Activity / Handout||6/24/2021||76.6 KB|
|04- Story 2 Handout/Rubric||Activity / Handout||6/24/2021||110.5 KB|
|05-Phase 1 Peer review||Activity / Handout||6/24/2021||98.3 KB|
|06-Phase 2 Handout||Activity / Handout||6/24/2021||72 KB|
|07-Phase 2 Rubric||Activity / Handout||6/24/2021||78 KB|
|08- Story 3 Handout/Rubric||Activity / Handout||6/24/2021||101 KB|
|09-Presentation Handout/Rubric||Activity / Handout||6/24/2021||77.7 KB|