In recognition for his exceptional contributions to the field of materials science and engineering, Prof. Stephen Krause was awarded the ‘Michael Ashby Outstanding Materials Educator Award’ at this year’s ASEE conference in Salt Lake City.

Nominated by Dr. Cynthia Waters, she explains: “Steve has been described as the “Pied Piper” of Materials Active learning.  He continually and with excitement shares his “Music” and many follow.  This music includes methods and tools to increase learning in a Material Science classroom.  One cannot find a more genuine and sharing mentor and Engineering Education leader.”

Pioneering Materials Engineering Education

A worthy winner of this year’s award, Stephen has long been instrumental in many engineering education initiatives, not least the Materials Concept Inventory. Co-developed with Prof. Richard Griffin, of Texas A&M University, the strategy is an interesting methodology which can be used to measure students’ conceptual changes. By exploring common misconceptions, which he has termed the ‘Muddiest Points’, Stephen has been able to quickly identify key topics, which his classes find most challenging.

Further explained in his 2013 ASEE paper, titled ‘Muddiest Point Formative Feedback in Core Materials Classes with YouTube, Blackboard, Class Warm-ups and Word Clouds’, Stephen reviews the effectiveness of four different feedback modes, based on the Muddiest Points responses. The first method looked at restructuring notes and placing them on Blackboard; the second method explored Class Warm-ups; the third method resulted in the creation of YouTube tutorials ( e.g. Phase Diagrams); and the fourth supplemental approach looked at creating Word Clouds, such as the one presented below based on the topic of atomic bonding. The bigger the word, the more students highlighted it as one of their Muddiest Points.

Overall, he has found that by closely monitoring the students’ understanding of certain concepts, their attitude, achievement and retention positively improves.

Read more about how this two-way formative feedback has been implemented in the Just-in-Time-Teaching with Interactive Frequent Formative Feedback (JTF) project, which ran at Arizona State University, North Carolina A&T, Oregon Institute of Technology, and Oregon State University.  

What do his students say?

Whilst writing this blog I happened upon reviews written by students who had taken his Structure & Properties- Materials (MSE250) class. Ominously named ‘rate my professor’, it unsurprisingly contained many glowing reports. Writing that ‘this professor actually cares about student learning’ and that ‘not many instructors can make you learn so much but still make the class fun and easy’, it is clear that Stephen’s contributions to student learning, really have resonated with his classes. Specifically, in recognition of his end-of-class reflections, one respondee explains that ‘he goes over what was not clear [in] the previous lecture. VERY HELPFUL’.

Congratulations also to Dr. Alison Polasik

This year at ASEE, Dr. Alison Polasik also received the New Materials Educator Award, for her exceptional achievements as an early-career professional. I had the pleasure of sitting in on Alison’s Technical Session in Salt Lake City and enjoyed hearing about how she has tackled active learning in small- and large-sized classes.

Harriet Parnell

Harriet Parnell

Harriet is our Materials Science and Engineering Specialist within the Education Team at Granta Design. She holds a PhD in Materials Engineering and Materials Design, as well as a BSc (Hons) in Biomedical Materials Science, both from the University of Nottingham, UK. Her technical background is in amorphous materials, specifically mid-infrared transparent glasses, for remote biosensing applications. Building on the teaching experience she gained through her doctorate, Harriet now works to create engaging university-level teaching resources, for academics across the world.
Harriet Parnell

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