College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Three undergraduate education proposals from IMSE researchers receive Miller Faculty Fellowships

Researchers in industrial and manufacturing systems engineering (IMSE) will develop innovative approaches to improve undergraduate teaching with support of recently funded Miller Faculty Fellowships. Three of this year’s university-funded proposals include two IMSE projects and one collaborative project, illustrating the department’s dedication to excellence in undergraduate education.

“I am very pleased to see the efforts in continuous improvement of IMSE’s courses, programs, and learning experiences,” said Gül Kremer, the C.G. “Turk” & Joyce A. Therkildsen Department Chair in Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering.

The Miller Fellowships provide faculty with opportunities to enhance their scholarly work in the undergraduate academic programs of the university. Researchers with successful proposals will improve the quality of undergraduate curriculum through new approaches to the teaching of current courses or through the development of entirely new courses. The faculty will have up to 12 months to meet the goals of their Fellowship project.

The three funded proposals involving IMSE researchers are:

“Finding a CURE: Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences for Industrial Engineering Students as a Model for the College of Engineering”

IMSE Investigators: Principal Investigator Leslie Potter, senior lecturer in industrial and manufacturing systems engineering; Co-PI Richard T. Stone, associate professor in industrial and manufacturing systems engineering; Co-PI Devna Popejoy-Sheriff, academic advisor in industrial and manufacturing systems engineering

Since 2013, the Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering (IMSE) Department has supported 10-20 students/semester with one-on-one undergraduate research assistantships (URAs), but faculty resource constraints have plateaued this number. This award will enable the IMSE Department to implement Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs), which will allow more students to address research problems. The program aims to develop students’ critical thinking skills and professional skills, like teamwork and communication. IMSE proposes implementing a pilot CURE, reaching 150 students/year with a research experience. A successful model could then be expanded to other College of Engineering departments, potentially reaching thousands of students/year, and supporting ISU’s strategic goal of ensuring that students receive an exceptional education, increasing both retention and graduate school enrollment.

“Engaging Students through Online Testing Modules for High-Enrollment Engineering Economics Course”

IMSE Investigators: Principal Investigator Cameron MacKenzie, assistant professor in industrial and manufacturing systems engineering; Co-PI Mike Helwig, lecturer in industrial and manufacturing systems engineering

Engineering students are trained to study for exams, be able to apply a few formulas to specific types of questions, and answer questions well enough to receive at least some partial credit. The purpose of this project is to engage students more directly through online testing modules that more closely reflect a professional engineering environment. This project will design these testing modules for an engineering economics course which attracts hundreds of students in each semester. A testing module will randomly select questions, and no question will be repeated exactly. A student can continue to take a test until he or she passes the module. Students who pass a module will have demonstrated proficiency in that subject. Students will be required to pass six online testing modules in order to pass the course. A student will need to pass two additional testing modules to earn an A.

“A Better Peer Assessment: Designing a Peer Assessment Protocol to Maximize Fairness”

PI Jane Rongerude, assistant professor in community and regional planning; Co-PI Cassandra Dorius, assistant professor, human development and family studies

IMSE Investigator: Co-PI Michael Dorneich, associate professor in industrial and manufacturing systems engineering

Fields as diverse as psychology, sociology, and law recognize that people have implicit biases that negatively impact how they perceive people from disadvantaged groups. Although active learning pedagogies such as TBL are promoted as a strategy for engaging underrepresented students, research suggests that women and students of color do not have the same classroom experience with TBL as their male and white counterparts (Hetter, 2015; Wayland, Walker, and Ferrara, 2014). Little research exists that investigates how these differences play out in the peer assessment process. TBL practitioners have little guidance on how to create peer assessments that are fair for all students. This project seeks to identify the extent to which bias affects peer assessment scores, and to develop peer assessment protocols that maximize fairness. This study will provide immediate, practical suggestions to faculty using peer assessment in their classrooms, thereby enhancing the classroom climate and improving student learning potential.


The Miller Faculty Development Fund was made possible by the generosity of F. Wendell Miller. The program supports faculty development proposals that advance the university’s strategic plan and is administered by the President’s Office and the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching.