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Collaborative Support Tools for Engineering Problem Solving

Support teaching assistants as they facilitate collaborative activities during undergraduate engineering courses.
Research assistant & designer
Co-designed and developed an orchestration tool that delivered live visualizations about groups of students in the class that is not visible during normal classroom monitoring.
Shehab, S., Lawrence, L., Livingston, L., Margotta, A., & Mercier, E. (2020). Towards the effective implementation of collaborative problem solving in undergraduate engineering classrooms: Co-designing guidelines for teaching assistants. Paper accepted to the American Society for Engineering Education, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, June 21-24, 2020.  [link]  [pdf]
Lawrence, L. & Mercier, E. (2019). Co-design of an orchestration tool: Supporting engineering teaching assistants as they facilitate collaborative learning. Interaction Design and Architecture(s) Journal, (42), 111- 130.  [link]  [pdf]

Lawrence, L., Shehab, S., Livingston, L., & Margotta, A. (2019). Collaborative teaching sequence: A guide for teachers. CoLearnLab Resources.

After the implementation of a synchronized drawing tool for undergraduate engineering students, it became clear that simply supporting the students was not enough. Teaching assistants for these courses are trained to support students’ content knowledge, not their collaboration interactions. Through a co-design process with expert teachers, teaching assistants, engineering and education faculty, and the research team the first iteration of the orchestration tool was created.
The orchestration tool visualizes live information about the student groups including each students’ location on the task, the amount of activity each student has contributed to the task compared to their group members, and the amount of activity each group has contributed compared to other groups. Teaching assistants can also join the group of students to share their work with the class or contribute directly to the shared drawing space with the group.
These categories of information were developed from expert teachers’ reflections of what would help to facilitate collaboration, as well as teaching assistants’ feedback on these categories.
The technology was used by teaching assistants in their courses for four weeks during their 16-week semester. Using findings from this iteration of the software, a second iteration of the tool was created where teaching assistants were supplied with prompts to support specific collaborative interactions.

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