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Congratulations Dr. Simmons!

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Date: Sep 17th, 2015 / Author: Lora Howard /

Dr. Denise Simmons was awarded a substantial research grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF) focused on educational innovation. The project involves a collaboration among Virginia Tech, Oregon State University, and Washington State University. The project also includes D. Zhao, a former Ph.D. EDP student (McCoy and Kleiner) who is now an Assistant Professor at Michigan State University.

The project focuses on civil/construction courses. Substantial reform in science, mathematics, and engineering courses has occurred over the past several decades on both in- and out-of-class experiences, and some innovators have made substantial modifications to their courses. Astonishingly, however, in the presence of such a broad investment of time and money, no reliable instruments exist to measure the frequency and quality of students' cognitive and behavioral engagement or their social engagement both inside and outside of the classroom in relation to the activities associated with a specific course.

This project seeks to develop instruments within an evaluation framework, termed the Course Social and Cognitive Engagement (CSCE) Framework, that supports civil engineering faculty development and improvement of their courses by providing empirical data on students' in and outside-classroom activities, active participation in learning, and networked social capital as a measure of social and emotional engagement. We will examine the decision process of civil engineering faculty as they implement evaluation plans in their courses so as to build the CSCE to maximally support future classroom evaluation efforts; this will be achieved in-part through front-end evaluation efforts and developing scale measures for several constructs of interest for engineering faculty. The expected outcomes of this project are: (1) valid and reliable CSCE instruments with modular subscales (that are also valid and reliable); (2) an exploratory framework for how engineering faculty make choices and engage in the measurement process; and (3) a deeper understanding of processes that underlie cognitive and social engagement in an engineering classroom.

For more information please contact Dr. Simmons at