1. Benjamin Zwickl
  3. Rochester Institute of Technology
  1. Anne Leak
  3. Rochester Institute of Technology
  1. Kelly Norris Martin
  3. Rochester Institute of Technology

Transfer of math, physics, and communication skills into the entry-level phot...

NSF Awards: 1432578

2018 (see original presentation & discussion)

Undergraduate, Graduate, Adult learners

Through an analysis of the workplace practices of STEM professionals doing research, engineering, and other technical work in optics and photonics, we identify ways in which workplace contexts, including social interactions, tools, and technology, and the workplace environment and culture shape how mathematics and communication are used to solve problems. For example, an engineer may regularly interact with clients, technicians, managers, and engineers from other divisions, meaning a great deal of workplace communication occurs between people with varied areas of technical expertise. However, undergraduate science courses provide students with opportunities to communicate primarily with the instructor or other students in the same course, so there is relatively small variation in the knowledge and expertise between those communicating. Similarly, workplace mathematics is frequently integrated with computational methods, especially data analysis. Yet undergraduate STEM courses often rely on symbolic and numerical calculations with pencil, paper, and calculator, and neglect data and computation. Broadly, we argue for greater diversity in how math and communication are integrated into instruction and uncover relevant contextual features that support holistic and workforce-relevant instructional strategies in STEM education.

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