456348 Integration of Academic Coaching Fundamentals into Engineering Classroom Activities

Wednesday, November 16, 2016: 4:12 PM
Continental 2 (Hilton San Francisco Union Square)
Donald Comfort and Kristen Comfort, Dept. of Chemical and Materials Engineering, University of Dayton, Dayton, OH

Chemical engineering education at all accredited institutions meets high technical rigor for student development and competency. Other skills such as interpersonal communication and intrinsic motivation, however, are more difficult to teach and assess. One means of imparting these skills into students is by drawing upon the fundamentals of academic coaching and integrating these ideas into classroom assignments. Academic coaching has been used as an alternative to advising and changes the faculty-student dynamics from an advice giver/receiver pair to two equally invested partners. By changing these dynamics, the student is empowered to develop their own solutions to his/her problem and commit to follow through on the planned solution. To achieve this, academic coaches uses a number of approaches that aid the student in developing his/her own solution including: encourage students to follow curiosity, view the problem differently by changing the perspective, asking powerful questions that provoke self-reflection, and utilizing approaches that require creative response.

While academic coaching has traditionally been applied for student interactions outside the classroom, we have drawn inspiration from the coaching ideals and implemented elements of coaching into classroom assignments. Academic coaching approaches were applied into an interdisciplinary sophomore/junior thermodynamics class, Engineering Thermodynamics, and also two chemical engineering classes Advanced Math for Chemical Engineers and Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics. These approaches included connectivity questions and connectivity projects – questions designed to develop links between the course material and real-world applications. The courses also integrated greater use of software to aid in solving homework problems and develop student confidence and increased computational abilities. Our efforts also incorporated additional collaborative learning techniques to develop inter-personal skills and promote functioning within a team environment.

We hypothesized that students exposed to coaching both as an advising alternative as well as in the classroom would benefit and outperform fellow classmates exposed to just coaching as advising or to no coaching at all. To assess this, a short questionnaire was administered to the students at the beginning of the Fall 2015 semester and a follow-up survey at the end of the Spring 2016 semester. These questions were designed to determine if students had increased levels of personal inquisitiveness, commitment and follow-through, and intrinsic motivation. Results of the survey, academic coaching, and in-class academic coaching techniques will be discussed.

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