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NSF Awards UTEP $500,000 to Improve Faculty Planning, Student Learning

Dr. Arunkumar Pennathur(left) and Dr. Louis Everett(right)
Dr. Arunkumar Pennathur(left) and Dr. Louis Everett(right
The National Science Foundation has awarded nearly $500,000 to The University of Texas at El Paso to study the relationship between faculty planning and student learning in engineering.

"The engineering education research being conducted by the team in our College of Engineering is another example of how we lead the nation in innovative engineering education of the highest quality," said Peter Golding, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies and Engineering Education Research in the College of Engineering. "UTEP has one of the best engineering education research profiles in the country. We applaud the success of our faculty in engineering in providing cutting-edge education for our students."

The project team is comprised of Dr. Arunkumar Pennathur, Associate Professor of Industrial, Manufacturing & Systems Engineering, Dr. Louis Everett, Professor and Chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Dr. Sam Riccillo, Associate Professor of Communication Sciences. Project partners include New Mexico State University, Prairie View A&M University, Baylor University, UT Pan American, Purdue University, RPI and Texas A&M University.

According to Pennathur, one of the challenges that engineering faculty face in preparing to teach a course is to balance content with pedagogy.

“Too often we tend to focus on the student engineer of 2020 and what it will take to cultivate student skills,” said Everett. “It’s not just how students learn, but also how faculty plan. It’s important for us to understand how engineering faculty can optimize their valuable planning time and resources to structure their classroom experiences.”

Results from the 3-year research study will inform engineering educators as they prepare to teach and to improve student motivation and learning. A virtual online strategy generator will be developed for use by the engineering educator community and will be modeled based on cognitive work design principles.

“The relationship between planning and implementation is being examined, as well as the relationship between planning and student learning,” said Ricillo. “The struggle for engineering educators is identifying the best pedagogical practices to deliver engineering content in order to maximize student learning.”