Time: to
Location: PRLTA 210; CAVC 335; or Zoom: 

Teaching Community of Practice (TCP) Meeting #5 – Equitable Learning Opportunities: Supporting Student Teams in Engineering Design Courses

Guest speaker Dr. Robin Fowler, University of Michigan

Team-based, project-based learning is a prevalent pedagogical strategy in engineering education. It has a number of benefits, but those benefits are not necessarily experienced equitably by all students in our courses. In this talk, Dr. Fowler will describe some of the subtle and less-subtle ways that student identity may be related to student experiences in our courses. She will argue that faculty have a responsibility to monitor and mitigate these patterns in their courses, and will describe efforts underway at University of Michigan in their first year design course. Early evidence suggests some improvement but also that there is a lot more work to be done. Dr. Fowler looks forward to gathering ideas from the group regarding what else to consider. 

Robin Fowler is a Technical Communication lecturer and a Engineering Education researcher at the University of Michigan. Her teaching is primarily in team-based engineering courses, and her research focuses on equity in communication and collaboration as well as in group design decision making (judgment) under uncertainty. She is especially interested in how power relationships and rhetorical strategies affect group judgment in engineering design; one goal of this work is to to understand factors that inhibit full participation of students who identify with historically marginalized groups and investigate evidence-based strategies for mitigating these inequities. In addition, she is interested in technology and how specific affordances can change the ways we collaborate, learn, read, and write. Teaching engineering communication allows her to apply this work as she coaches students through collaboration, design thinking, and design communication. She is part of a team of faculty innovators who originated Tandem (, a tool designed to help facilitate equitable and inclusive teamwork environments.