Investigating the Impact of Arts on Student Learning through Glass Science in Materials Engineering

Katrina Donovan
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

The research for the Investigating the Impact of Arts on Student Learning by Introducing Glass Science in the Materials Engineering Curriculum involves the creation of an academic program (curricular and co-curricular components) that integrates art concepts into an undergraduate Metallurgical Engineering program at South Dakota Mines. The goals of the program are increased student innovation, creativity, collegiality, and entrepreneurship, all while broadening the undergraduate talent pool. The programmatic elements are focused on integration of arts in STEM (i.e. STEAM) to achieve the goals. The centerpiece is the infusion of STEAM content into laboratories and courses distributed throughout the model engineering program in Metallurgical Engineering. A particular focus is the integration of STEAM into the upper-level capstone design sequence. Curricular modifications will be facilitated through involvement of a resident artist who is embedded within the academic program. Co-curricular content will include formation of i) campus-wide STEAM Council, ii) new curricula exploring the intersection of art within glass science and engineering, iii) new STEAM-based design competition, and iii) summer STEAM camp to engage pre-college students who might not otherwise consider STEM careers. The program is evidence-based and builds on prior NSF Course Curricular and Laboratory Improvement research that involved successful curricular and co-curricular programming associated with integration of blacksmithing in a B.S. Metallurgical Engineering degree program. Other elements of the proposed research address the sustainability of the proposed modifications through i) translation of selected programmatic elements to another model engineering program (Mechanical Engineering), ii) recruitment of students into the revised degree programs, iii) marketing to the campus/local/state community, iv) involvement of private-sector partners through STEAM-influenced design projects, and v) dissemination to targeted professional societies and associated stakeholders (e.g. local art centers). A rigorous external assessment of the research will be conducted and includes the use of a variety of assessment tools a couple of the following will be used: Herrmann Brain Dominance Inventory, Small Group Instructional Diagnosis, student focus groups.Intellectual Merit: The proposed program has great potential to improve STEM learning environments through the creation of a STEAM-infused curriculum and co-curriculum. In turn, the STEAM-based program will support the recruitment and retention of a engineers. The proposed research will build upon prior evidenced-based programming in blacksmithing (NSF CCLI), and create an academic culture (curricular and co-curricular components) that fosters greater innovation and entrepreneurial development than currently exists within traditional engineering programs. Broader Impacts: There is wide agreement that STEM graduates need to be more innovative and creative. The research proposed herein is designed specifically to increase both of these desired attributes using evidence-based strategies. If the Research Hypothesis is proven positive (through a rigorous external assessment) the STEAM program components, as well as the developmental processes used in their creation, will be readily expandable on our campus and to other engineering programs across the country. In addition, the outreach programs proposed will deliver quality STEAM-derived science and engineering content to a diverse group of students, as well as to the general public.


Jon Kellar, SD Mines, Rapid City, SD; Michael West, SD Mines, Rapid City, SD; Cassandra Birrenkott, SD Mines, Rapid City, SD; Matthew Whitehead, SD Mines, Rapid City, SD