Panther earns CAREER Award to improve engineering education

Calendar Icon Jun 20, 2024          RSS Feed  RSS Submit a Story

Husker researcher Grace Panther, an expert in engineering education, aims to develop engineering pedagogy — methods of teaching — where strong visuo-spatial skills are less central to success. With a five-year, $650,000 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development Program, she will advance her work to create pedagogy that is more inclusive and equitable, enabling students with a wide range of visuo-spatial skills to earn engineering degrees and join the STEM workforce.

Despite widespread recognition of the need to increase the number and diversity of future engineers, universities struggle to retain engineering majors. The national attrition rate for these students hovers around 50%, and half of those departures occur during freshman year.

One factor correlated to attrition is that without strong visuo-spatial skills, it is difficult for students to succeed in engineering courses. These skills refer to the ability to manipulate, organize and make sense of spatial relationships — and research shows that women and students from lower socioeconomic status groups lag behind their counterparts in this domain.

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