Reflections On The Canadian Engineering Education Association - Association Canadienne de l’Éducation En Génie (CEEA-ACEG) Conference

The following post was authored by Ms. Samantha Mehltretter, MASc candidate, engineering education, School of Engineering, and Dr. Julie Vale, PEng, Associate Professor, School of Engineering. Both presented research at the recent Canadian Engineering Education Association – Association Canadienne de l’Éducation En Génie (CEEA-ACEG) Conference. You can find the titles and abstracts to their presentations below.

We were awarded the PSEER Conference Travel Award to attend the 2018 Canadian Engineering Education Association – Association Canadienne de l’Éducation En Génie (CEEA-ACEG) Conference at the University of British Columbia. The conference is an annual national meeting of engineering faculty and graduate students pursuing innovation and research in engineering education and provides an unparalleled opportunity to network with like-minded educators while presenting and learning about engineering education research and practice.

The CEEA conference is the top conference of its kind in Canada.  This year, the conference spanned four days, with approximately 280 delegates, over 100 technical presentations, three keynotes, and 30 workshops. There were attendees from across Canada, as well as some representatives from the U.S.A., Australia, and South Africa.

Of particular note were the four 3M Teaching Fellows: Dr. Greg Evans and Dr. Susan McCahan, from the University of Toronto, Dr. Gordon Stubley from the University of Waterloo, and Dr. Peter Ostafichuk from the University of British Columbia.  Drs Evans, Stubley, and Ostafichuk ran a standing-room-only panel discussion on teaching metacognition, and Dr. McCahan’s graduate student presented their preliminary work on improving formative feedback on assessments.  All of these outstanding educators were more than happy to spend hours discussing their research and teaching methods, and we both made good use of the opportunity. 

Beyond networking, CEEA is a place to share new research and to discuss the practice of education. Keynotes focused on identity as educators (Dr. Atman – “Dancing with ambiguity”), as engineers (Dr. Britton – “being” an engineer versus “doing” engineering), and as individuals (Ms. Burghart – “Indigineering”).  Podium talks covered a range of topics including the fall study break, diversity and identity, and fair assessment of individual contributions to group work, while other talks generated thoughtful discussions about the need for humility, empathy, and curiosity in engineering graduates.

Julie presented preliminary research results on memorization, student approaches to learning, and perceived ‘success’ in courses.  The talk was well received, with a very engaging follow-up discussion that will inform future research directions.  Julie and her colleagues (Dr. Karen Gordon and Dr. Ryan Clemmer) will continue pursuing this work with the assistance of a PSEER research grant. 

While practice was discussed in some of the podium talks, the most valuable sessions were the series of workshops held on the Sunday before the conference.  These workshop topics included discussions about Graduate Attributes and how to survive accreditation, project-based learning in large first-year design classes using low-fidelity prototypes, and fostering metacognition via the application of reflection activities in courses.

Samantha presented the workshop Creating Engaging Video Content to Support Curriculum Delivery with Dr. John Donald. The objective of the workshop was to familiarize participants with a video editing software (Camtasia) and to demonstrate that making videos for courses doesn’t have to be daunting. The workshop included a live demo and the opportunity for participants to make short videos in small groups. Participants later said the workshop helped overcome the fear of creating videos, and that they were excited to start using multimedia to enhance their courses.  

Attending the CEEA 2018 conference would not have been possible without the support of the PSEER Conference Travel Award and we are happy to discuss our experiences further. Continued representation at CEEA is crucial to the University of Guelph’s School of Engineering as the school actively pursues education research initiatives and pedagogical innovations at the course and program level.


A major challenge at universities today, is delivering engaging and effective material to large classes. Learning management systems and access to laptops, tablet and other video playback devices is now ubiquitous on university campuses. It is also well understood that video material can provide increased engagement, as well as flexibility during class time through the “flipped classrooms” model.  One of the barriers to faculty creating videos for in course delivery is developing the confidence to invest in the learning curve of understanding the techniques and then start the process of becoming proficient with the hardware & software needed to produce relevant content. The objective of the workshop is to help participants overcome some of the barriers associated with creating video content for the classroom by familiarizing participants with a video editing software (Camtasia) and demonstrating that making videos for courses doesn’t have to be daunting. The workshop will include a live demo that takes participants through recording, editing and publishing stages in 10 min. Then participants will have the opportunity to create their own 1 min video on a topic of their choosing and share it with the group.


In engineering, it is important for students to develop strong problem analysis skills; however, this skill development may be hindered by a reliance on memorization. In this study, a survey was used to investigate undergraduate engineering student perspectives towards their curriculum and memorization and their styles using Bigg’s revised two-factor Study Process Questionnaire (R-SPQ-2F).

The majority of the participants are characterized as students having good study habits, a deep motivation, and deep strategies when approaching their education. They generally recognize the decreasing importance of memorization as they progress in the engineering curriculum. There is also a fairly large subset of students that are classified as deep motivation but surface strategy. Most students believe that at least 50% of an exam should contain questions similar sample problems or assignment questions and surface learners tend to perceive exams to be unfair if too many questions are dissimilar. There was no observed correlation between grades and the R-SPQ-2F results in the courses examined. These results tend to support the hypothesis that surface strategies, including memorization, are being employed by undergraduate students as a means of obtaining adequate performance