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The value of the VaNTH Engineering Research Center

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4 Author(s)

Established in 1999 with a grant from the National Science Foundation, the Vanderbilt-Northwestern-Texas-Harvard/MIT Engineering Research Center (VaNTH/ERC) for Bioengineering Educational Technologies is aimed at improving the short- and long-term outcomes of bioengineering education at many levels with a particular emphasis on undergraduates. As part of the VaNTH ERC, there is a sizable emphasis on assessment and evaluation (A&E). This article focuses on a subset of A&E activities - those directed at estimating the relative effects or "value added" for individual VaNTH projects on student learning and expertise. At the core of the VaNTH ERC is the development of innovative modules that are used in BME courses. These innovative projects are based on the principles of learning within the How People Learn model. Over the course of VaNTH's eight-year time line, at least 100 project-level modules or courses will be subjected to empirical assessment and evaluation. Procedures have been developed to conduct a quantitative synthesis (meta-analysis) of effects within and across VaNTH sites. This article describes the use of a counterfactual model of causal analysis that is being used to evaluate the value added for VaNTH activities at the project level. Preliminary results are presented to illustrate how these A&E activities are being undertaken. In doing so, challenges that have been encountered and resolutions to technical and practical problems also are discussed.

Published in:

IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Magazine  (Volume:22 ,  Issue: 4 )