Scrum for early April, 2014: so many projects, so much writing.

We sat down at Cafe Royale (the local coffeeshop across the street from our office) and went around the table with quick updates on our projects.

TIAGO… is clarifying the methods of his dissertation for his committee and getting some help from Junaid on that. He just gave another round of feedback to the faculty and students on Global Design Teams. They’d accepted some of his first-round feedback, and and there are interesting stories coming out — for instance, the new requirement that students visit cultural events seems to have affected their thinking, or at least it appears to be showing up in their written reflections. He’s already in the midst of collecting data (written reflections from students on Global Design Teams), but is fine-tuning how he’s going to do the last few survey questions at the end. Francesca reminded Tiago to include a progress bar on every survey he designs.

MOLLY… is coding data from high school students rationalizing about how to design energy-efficient buildings. This is computer-collected data that tracks every decision a student makes about design while using CAD software, and they’ll expand to get data from middle-school students later on. It’s a lot of data points, since every click and choice is tracked by the computer, but it boils down into a manageable-sized dataset; right now she’s only looking qualitatively about what the students write up as their rationale. Molly is feeling good about getting her feet wet right now; she may ask for more help later. Tiago recommended that Molly braindump into documents as she goes.

JOI… could use feedback on a presentation she’ll be delivering in June. The presentation is on her MS thesis work (in Industrial Engineering) on “social community,” which she’s also writing into a journal paper (feedback requests coming soon). She’s a bit apprehensive about publicly presenting her PhD dissertation work at ASEE for the first time, and asked how to deliver a talk on the touchy subject of race and gender. Mel reminded Joi that her entire audience will have chosen to come to her session because they’re interested in the topic, so if Joi is confident and comfortable speaking, the audience will probably be receptive.

FRANCESCA… is investigating a required Mechanical Engineering course sequence that has two classes presenting different theoretical perspectives, meaning that students make all sorts of conceptual transfer errors. She’s looking for ways to bridge these two perspectives, and threw a quick open brainstorm to the group for ideas on what she could try. Robin suggested trying techniques from the earlier class in the environment of the second class to make it explicit that the two spaces had different ways of thinking; Junaid pointed out that the students needed to experience that perceptual disconnect before they’ll fix it. Francesca will work on creating examples listing the two perspectives and providing students an experience where they apply an example from one perspective and try to revert to the other perspective – which may or may not work and being able to understand and explain why.  Scaffolding prompts will be used to help bridge the gap for students in this area.

HADI… is working on a project doing empirical research in industry; he and Robin are collaborating with a corporation to investigate how employees develop broad expertise: big picture thinking. He’s starting to look at the survey data they’ve just collected. He’s also working on his dissertation and will be holding an update meeting with his committee soon.

JUNAID… is finishing his thesis revision and formatting and preparing it for deposit. Formatting, apparently, is “fun.” He’s also slicing his dissertation into journal papers and preparing to submit to a conference in Dubai that will be “local” for him when he moves back to Pakistan this summer. Francesca asked if the international engineering education conferences have different sorts of research than the local ones; Junaid replied that the focus and the measures of quality seem to be much the same, but the ability to run experiments is different between countries.

MEL… is in Ridiculous Writing Mode trying to get her prelim and 4 FIE papers done in the next 2 weeks, and wants writing accountability buddies to help her schedule butt-in-chair time. She’ll be sending a draft of one of the papers — a graphic novel on faculty workshops — to Junaid and Tiago, for review tonight. She’d also particularly like feedback on the paper about realtime transcription as an interview technique, which is supposed to be written this weekend.

ROBIN… is navigating the writing of a “final” report for a project that’s not yet done, because sometimes research timelines and report deadlines force you to do that. We learned about the joys of bureaucratic requirements that occasionally accompany federal funding; it’s a fact of life.