Contextualizing Asset-based Approaches in Undergraduate Engineering Design Education

  • Subbian, Vignesh (CoPI)
  • Shivers-mcnair, Ann (CoPI)
  • Budinoff, Hannah (PI)
  • Lopez, Francesca (CoPI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


This project aims to serve the national interest by implementing evidence-based, inclusive pedagogical strategies in engineering design courses. Equity-centered approaches that emphasize the strengths and perspectives of all students in the learning process are critical to broadening participation in engineering and developing a diverse and innovative workforce. One promising approach, asset-based pedagogy, offers explicit ways to acknowledge the holistic student perspective and incorporate knowledge that affirms their identities into curricula. While there is a growing body of evidence that students’ identity and achievement are positively influenced by asset-based pedagogy, there is a lack of research specifically showing its impact on undergraduate engineering student outcomes. This early-stage research project plans to develop, integrate, and study the impact of asset-based approaches in engineering design courses. Incorporating these approaches in engineering design courses will allow for different ways of knowing and doing engineering among students and, ultimately, promote the formation of their identities as engineers. The project hopes to generate new knowledge on the implications of asset-based practices in postsecondary engineering education. This knowledge is especially novel because there is limited evidence showing the impact of asset-based pedagogical practices on college student outcomes. This project intends to develop tools and strategies that educators can readily incorporate into their design courses. Findings and resources from this work have the potential to improve the perception among educators that all students, including women, gender minorities, and racial and ethnic minorities, can engage and succeed in engineering activities. Consequently, the collective change among faculty instructional approaches and students’ learning approaches enabled through this work has implications for the overall college success and career readiness in STEM students.The specific project goals are to determine the impact of asset-based pedagogy on engineering students’ sense of belonging, engineering identity, and self-efficacy and to determine the impact of asset-based pedagogy on how students map their assets to the design process and competencies in design courses. The project plans to implement asset-based approaches into approximately 15 courses across seven departments and all undergraduate levels at the University of Arizona, a public, land-grant, Hispanic-Serving Institution. The project team will also provide professional development for engineering educators to help with implementation of asset-based pedagogy. Grounded in self-determination theory, the project will measure the impact of curricular updates informed by asset-based-pedagogy on students quantitatively using validated survey instruments and qualitatively through in-depth interviews. Results from this work should open new avenues to re-envision the structure and pedagogy in engineering courses with an equity-centered and asset-based mindset. The NSF IUSE: EHR Program supports research and development projects to improve the effectiveness of STEM education for all students. Through the Engaged Student Learning track, the program supports the creation, exploration, and implementation of promising practices and tools.This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Effective start/end date8/1/227/31/25


  • National Science Foundation: $300,000.00


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