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Program Description

The INCLUDE team is working with partners across the UConn campus to create an ecosystem that supports diverse learning styles and cultivates the potential of neurodivergent students to contribute to innovations in engineering.

INCLUDE aims to make systemic changes that range across the entire span of a student’s undergraduate experience.

Efforts will target the following areas:

  • recruitment of neurodivergent students to engineering
  • transition to college
  • community building
  • incorporation of inclusive teaching practices
  • advising and mentoring
  • career advising
  • employer outreach

Components of the INCLUDE program will be launching in Fall 2020. Stay tuned!

I-Courses - Pilot program

The INCLUDE team has developed ten (10) revised courses which will be delivered in the 2021-2022 academic year. These courses are aimed at providing an improved educational experience for students in their sophomore and junior years. Students enrolled in the INCLUDE sections of the following courses may choose to participate in research that will provide valuable feedback that will further shape the course redesign process.

  • CE 2110 - Applied Mechanics I (Statics)
  • CE 3110 - Mechanics of Materials
  • CE 3510 - Soil Mechanics
  • CE 3610 - Basic Structural Analysis
  • CE 4210 - Operations Research in CEE
  • ENVE 1000 - Environmental Sustainability
  • ENVE3120 - Fluid Mechanics
  • ENVE 3220 - Water Quality Engineering
  • ENVE 4210 - Environmental Engineering Chemistry
  • ENVE 4540 - Design of Groundwater Systems

 

Past

We are excited to welcome Shawn Smith, founder and CEO of Don't Dis-my-ability to our Neurodiversity Fall Discussion Series! The series opened with a guest lecture that promises to inspire and challenge you to make the most of your unique strengths.

Fall Discussion Series Kickoff
Guest Lecture: Shawn Smith
Date: October 9, 2020
Time: 12:00 - 1:00 p.m. EST
Via Webex

Fall 2021: FYE Course module

Neurodiversity 101
This course module will introduce neurodiversity to students enrolled in FYE (UNIV 1800) courses through the School of Engineering.

Course module may address some of the following questions:
What is neurodiversity? Am I neurodivergent? How can I build my support network at UConn? How does neurodiversity help me as an engineer?

UNIV-1810 Neurodiversity in Engineering

Incoming engineering students who identify as neurodiverse* are invited to join the Neurodiversity in Engineering Learning Community as part of our UNIV 1810 First Year Experience (FYE) course. The course will be offered in Fall '21. A permission number is required for registration. Course details may be found below.

UNIV 1810 (Section 078) FYE Learning Community Seminar
Download the course syllabus.

For more information, or to request a permission number, please contact Connie Syharat: connie.syharat@uconn.edu

Course Description: 

Welcome to the University of Connecticut and First Year Experience (FYE)! FYE is a unique one-credit course designed to provide you with the opportunity to explore issues relevant to new students at the University of Connecticut, with a particular focus on engineering students who identify as neurodiverse. Our goal for the semester is to provide an open forum for discussion about college transition issues and concerns, and to promote greater self-awareness, growth, and understanding of you as a neurodiverse individual, engineer, and global citizen. Over the course of the semester we will investigate your college experiences holistically, which will allow you to make informed decisions paving the way for a richer, fuller college career.

This course is designed to be fun, supportive, practical, and intellectually challenging. Most of our work in this class will be cooperative. Therefore, our success will largely rely on active, earnest participation from you. Students who successfully complete the course will leave with transferable skills, increased cultural competency, knowledge of UConn resources (general and specific to neurodiverse students), increased self-awareness and self-advocacy, working knowledge of HuskyCT, a writing sample, and a resume. In addition, we hope that you will have some fun memories, confidence, and meaningful connections with faculty/staff and your fellow students.

Course Topics:

  • Identification of strengths/talents
  • Goal setting
  • Engineering identity
  • Self-advocacy
  • Time management and prioritizing
  • Wellness: stress, mental health, and wellbeing
  • Telling your story (Your first college resume)
  • Interview skills
  • Violence prevention
  • Tech hacks and workarounds: assistive technology tools to maximize learning

* Students who identify as neurodiverse may have differences in sociability, learning, attention, mood and other mental functions that are sometimes related to health diagnoses. A few examples of the many expressions of neurodiversity include ADHD, autism, dyslexia, anxiety, and learning differences. A formal diagnosis is not necessary to enroll in this course.

 

 

The INCLUDE team has developed ten (10) revised courses which will be delivered in the 2021-2022 academic year. These courses are aimed at providing an improved educational experience for students in their sophomore and junior years. Students enrolled in the INCLUDE sections of the following courses may choose to participate in research that will provide valuable feedback that will further shape the course redesign process.

  • CE 2110 – Applied Mechanics I (Statics)
  • CE 3110 – Mechanics of Materials
  • CE 3510 – Soil Mechanics
  • CE 3610 – Basic Structural Analysis
  • CE 4210 – Operations Research in CEE
  • ENVE 1000 – Environmental Sustainability
  • ENVE3120 – Fluid Mechanics
  • ENVE 3220 – Water Quality Engineering
  • ENVE 4210 – Environmental Engineering Chemistry
  • ENVE 4540 – Design of Groundwater Systems

 

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The I-Course Standards Framework was developed to guide the course redesign process of the CEE INCLUDE Working Group during the summer of 2020. The CEE INCLUDE Working Group collaborated with educational design coaches, experts from the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, and faculty from the Neag School of Education to create these standards for our I-Courses.

I-Courses are anchored by a commitment to a Strength-based Approach and centered around three core course features: Culture of Inclusion, Teaching and Learning, and Instructional Design.

Strength-based approach


Studies of strength-based initiatives in higher education settings show that exposure to a strength-based interventions can produce immediate positive short-term effects including increases in confidence, self-efficacy and learning breakthroughs (Louis, 2011). By incorporating awareness of student and faculty strengths into teaching and learning, it is hoped that I-Courses may enhance engagement, motivation, and persistence in the face of challenges (Schreiner, 2014).

Culture of Inclusion


Course instructor builds a culture of inclusion by:

  • communicating their commitment to inclusion via a written or verbal statement to students
  • learning more about cognitive and other forms of diversity through workshops, readings, or other professional development opportunities
  • connecting with their students and/or otherwise encouraging a sense of belonging

Teaching and Learning


Course instructor carefully considers ways to encourage student motivation and engagement by

  • providing opportunities for active learning
  • building in some elements of flexibility or choice that allow students to personalize their education to meet their learning needs and preferences
  • providing multiple modes of feedback and communication to students about their learning

Instructional Design


Course instructor undertakes a design process that

  • centers students as stakeholders in the educational experience
  • provides scaffolding and/or other supports for student learning
  • follows principles of Universal Design to make the course accessible to all types of learners

 

An I-Course Syllabus should include a personalized inclusion statement from the faculty/instructor teaching the course. A sample inclusion statement is included below:

I am a member of the INCLUDE program team, an NSF-funded neurodiversity initiative that aspires to create an inclusive learning environment in which all students can thrive. Emphasis is given to providing a strength-based approach to education that encourages students to identify, develop, and leverage their unique abilities to address complex engineering problems. This course was designed to address the diverse ways of thinking and learning that neurodiverse students possess. Several pedagogical innovations will be implemented in this course including, but not limited to peer-learning, alternative examination modalities, project-based learning, etc.

 

If you aren’t teaching a course that is designated as an I-Course, but you still want to build a culture of inclusion for neurodiverse students, consider a statement such as:

I believe in creating an inclusive learning environment for all students and I value my students’ unique ways of thinking and learning. If you are experiencing difficulties for any reason, or if you would like to talk about ways that we can help you to succeed in this course, please contact me or your TA.