Meet Dr. Kaitlin Mallouk, Assistant Professor within the Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering.
What is your area of expertise? Currently, my main area of expertise is engineering education pedagogy – basically, what are the best ways of teaching engineering students. I am also working on developing expertise in faculty development and leadership practices and diversity, equity, and inclusion in engineering education. These new areas have synergies with each other and with my existing expertise, so I’m very excited to learn more.
Share an “aha!” moment that you’ve had within your discipline that made you feel passionate about your field. A few years ago, I championed the inclusion of weekly reflections in our first-semester first-year engineering clinic course that all engineering students take. As I began reading my students’ first reflections, I was struck by how many of them so clearly needed an outlet beyond what we typically provide in engineering (i.e., problem sets and lab reports). Their reflections were personal and honest and gave me a window into their lives that I don’t normally get. It reminded me that our students are whole people, and I had newfound motivation to provide them the best classroom experience I could.
Describe for us an experience you’ve had with a student that made you feel excited about educating the next generation in your field. I developed a project for our first-year engineering clinic class during which students learn about Net Zero Energy buildings and sustainability – we talk about solar power, heat transfer, and low energy appliances in the context of the engineering basics students are learning (like engineering economics). I think the project is super interesting and relevant, but I was so gratified when a student emailed me after the semester was over to let me know that his internship was going to require him to analyze solar panels and energy reduction measures and that he felt totally confident going into the internship having worked on the Net Zero project in my class! Our current students are the people who will be solving the most challenging engineering problems our society has ever faced and I’m proud that I can contribute to their development as engineers and people.
What is one thing you wish people knew about your academic discipline or your research focus? Just because a particular way of teaching/learning things worked for you doesn’t mean it works for everyone (or even the majority of people). Our education system has been designed to select for particular strengths, which means we’re missing out on a huge amount of talent that doesn’t happen to thrive in our current system.
What is a current project you and your students are working on? I have several students working on analyzing the reflections our first-year students are writing in their engineering clinic course. We are taking a few different approaches to this work—one is to try to understand how students think about the entrepreneurial mindset (curiosity, connections, creating value) and another is investigating how students conceptualize themselves as learners based on their responses to the prompt “Tell me about yourself as a learner”. We have found some interesting results—the publications are forthcoming!
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