TUES Problem-Solving


Integration of Experiential Learning to Develop Problem Solving Skills in Deaf and Hard of Hearing STEM Students

Matthew Marshall, Andres Carrano, and Wendy Dannels


Individuals who are deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) are underrepresented in STEM professions, and this may be due in part to their level of preparation in the development and retention of mathematical and problem-solving skills. An approach was developed that incorporates experiential learning and best practices of STEM instruction to give first-year DHH students enrolled in a postsecondary STEM program the opportunity to develop problem-solving skills in real-world scenarios. Using an industrial engineering laboratory that provides manufacturing and warehousing environments, students were immersed in real-world scenarios in which they worked on teams to address prescribed problems encountered during the activities. The highly-structured, plan-do-check-act (PDCA) approach commonly used in industry was adapted for the DHH student participants to document and communicate the problem-solving steps.

The objective of this work was to leverage effective STEM pedagogy established generally in the body of research in STEM education, with some identified "best practices" for educating DHH students. This effort resulted in an experiential-based approach for teaching to DHH students the problem solving skills needed to address the types of problems that STEM professionals face. A significant amount of content was developed during this project to make all materials fully accessible to students who are DHH. This website provides access to the materials created as part of the development of the intervention that was assessed as part of this project. Additional background and the findings of this project are described fully in a paper published in the Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education.

Case Studies for Problem-Solving

A set of case studies were developed in order to provide problem-solving scenarios that students completed throughout this project. These case studies include a large collection of captioned and ASL-interpreted video clips that provide alternative modes of consuming the details of each case. Additionally, a set of vocabulary words were identified as potential terminology that may be unfamiliar to some students. For these words, captioned and ASL-interpreted videos were created to provide definitions.

Additional Technical Vocabulary

Along with these case studies, videos were developed to define a number of technical terms related to the modules that comprise the intervention developed in this project. These videos are captioned and ASL-interpreted.