QUEST 2 New Orleans: QUEST Presents at the ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition

This past June, QUEST Program Director Kylie King, Program Manager Jessica Macklin, and recent graduate Mandy Yard (Q21) traveled all of the way to the birthplace of jazz and beignets: New Orleans, LA. The trio were invited to present at the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)’s 123rd Annual Conference & Exposition. The ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition is the only conference dedicated to the various disciplines of engineering education – ranging from grade school all the way to higher education. At this year’s conference, there were numerous technical sessions, distinguished lectures, and other networking opportunities for attendees to learn about innovative curriculum and teaching methods in the engineering and technology sector.

Kylie, Jessica, and Mandy wrote and submitted a paper exploring the impact of class size on student success last fall to ASEE, and it was accepted under the Multidisciplinary Engineering Education division.

The paper, titled Impact of Class Size on Student Success in a Multidisciplinary Honors Program, examined how transitioning from the historically single-cohort system of about 65 students to cohorts of around 45 students impacted student success by measuring indicators such as the QUEST student learning outcomes and final course grades. This particular study found that decreasing class size in a higher education setting did not significantly impact QUEST student success. However, it noted that there are other factors specific to QUEST, such as extracurricular involvement and a unique program structure, that could have compensated for a larger class size.

Mandy Yard, a QUEST alumna from Q21, recently graduated from Maryland with a degree in Supply Chain Management and recently started working as a Supply Chain Analyst for Pepsi Co.

I got involved with the ASEE Conference after talking to Kylie about research opportunities that she was working on for QUEST… I worked on the literature review and looked into other studies of class size and student performance. I found it really interesting because there was very little data on college level classes and even less on honors programs. – Mandy Yard

The conference itself provided many learning opportunities for the three QUEST powerhouses. As we all know, QUEST focuses on process improvement – and the program uses this approach to improve itself as well. Kylie, Jessica, and Mandy were able to learn about various methods to improve QUEST through attending other presentations.

One insightful takeaway from the conference was how to navigate international projects. Last semester for the first time, QUEST students worked on international 490H projects in collaboration with universities in Sweden and Australia. With the international scopes, there were new challenges and obstacles that the international teams had to overcome. Kylie attended several presentations at the conference to learn about ways to make the international projects an even greater success during next spring’s second iteration.

Students begin [the international projects] confident and excited – however, when challenges arise they often become disgruntled. To mitigate this, before the project: 1) Set realistic expectations, 2) Prepare students for cultural differences or differences in educational backgrounds, and 3) Explain the scope and expected outcomes. – Kylie King

With these takeaways and more, QUEST can continue to improve and remain one of the top academic programs on campus. The ASEE Annual Conference is another shining example of how QUEST continues to represent and excel in industry, research, and education.


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