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Martin earns NSF RAPID grant to explore effects of COVID-19 on student success

In response to the major educational disruption caused by COVID-19, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has released a new classification of expedited funding called RAPID grants to support time-sensitive proposals that explore the impact of the virus on education systems. Ohio State Engineering Education Associate Professor Julie Martin is an early recipient of the new funding.

Julie MartinMartinNSF began focusing on COVID-19 research in early spring 2020, just as many in the United States started feeling the impacts of the pandemic. As universities quickly shifted to online learning, many students struggled to maintain close connections with peers and others on campus, which have proven crucial to their academic success. Instructors teaching team-based engineering courses had to quickly make decisions about how to support team-based learning via online platforms rather than face-to-face.

Martin, of the Department of Engineering Education, and Kerrie Douglas of the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University, are examining how these sudden changes influenced students’ relationships with their peers and campus-based personnel. Through an NSF RAPID collaborative research grant, Martin and Douglas aim to provide an understanding of how engineering instructors supported student connections in their courses during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how the social supports identified by students supported their success in engineering courses and persistence in their major.

Their project, titled “Approaches to Online Implementation and Social Support in Undergraduate Engineering Courses,” uses a multiple cross-case comparison of undergraduate, team-based engineering courses at Purdue University. Through collecting student survey data, conducting interviews with students and instructors, and examining course documents such as syllabi and schedules, the research team is exploring how choices made by engineering instructors during the COVID-19 pandemic are associated with undergraduate engineering students’ academic social supports and achievement of learning outcomes.

The research team hopes their findings will make online and in-person instruction more inclusive by helping instructors make future decisions that ensure all students have the resources they need to be successful in the course and to persist in their major. The team will use the results of this research to create a list of best practices for online STEM instructors which will be disseminated to the public through social media, professional organization outlets and archival journals.

from the Department of Engineering Education