Humanizing STEM Showcase

Travis Steele

Bakersfield College

Engineering Department

ENGR B20 - Programming and Problem Solving in MATLAB

This site showcases instructional content created for my course ENGR B20 - Programming and Problem Solving in MATLAB. I used the techniques and tools taught in the Humanizing STEM Academy funded by the California Education Learning Lab.


Where I was.

Prior to taking the Humanizing STEM course, I was putting a ton of work into my online classes, but still students were not feeling my presence as much as I thought they were. The considerable time  put into creating lectures, developing a clear Canvas shell with logical flow and clear due dates did not translate into student awareness of the time and effort I was putting in.

During this course there were many aspects to teaching that just come natural to me in the face-to-face modality. A warm, welcoming smile, talking to my students about my/their lives outside of class and getting to know them as a person. It just didn't "click" to me that these personal touches are what we all need to feel "seen" and that it would take intentional measures to do in an online setting what comes naturally in my face-to-face courses.

Where I am

At the end of this course, I now realize that teaching to students as a whole individual is the key to making our online courses as personal and human as possible. This human connection is equally important as the academic connection - or maybe even more important! I try my best to be a "warm demander", but without the humanized aspect, I am afraid that sometimes it comes across as just a Demander. Getting to know my students as people, letting them see me as a human and not just the voice on their computer will take intentional effort, but I do feel like I now know several tools to make it easier.

Where I am going

I see a ton of space in my online courses to streamline and personalize the class and content. The idea of bumper videos and micro-lectures are especially exciting to me, since I had already been considering redoing much of my online lecture videos. Building a series of humanized modules comprised of micro-lectures and connected through bumper videos seems like a daunting but worthwhile task. The other aspect I've realized I can improve is in personal, actionable student feedback following the WISE model. I do this in my face-to-face courses during students 1-on-1 chats, so transitioning to including it in my online sections through video feedback and comments will be challenging but should lead to better student success.

Liquid Syllabus

This is the liquid syllabus created for my ENGR B20 course. This serves as a warm welcome to the class and to let them feel comfortable with me and the course before it even begins.

This also gives students general advice on how to be successful in this course and links to the first few assignments. This makes it easy for students to jump in confidently.

Course card showing a woman working on programming

Course Card

This is the course card created for my ENGR B20 course. This image shows a woman happily working on a programming assignment for my class. This image hopefully encourages my typically under-represented female students that they belong in engineering and programming.


This is my humanized homepage. By adding humanized elements I hope students will feel welcomed and confident that they can be successful in this course. I also hope they will see me as a person they can talk to, ask questions and learn alongside.

Getting to Know You Survey

I created this survey to get to know my students a bit better during the first week of the course. By having this information early, I can identify students who might benefit from extra contact or who may have additional challenges at home.

I ask my students questions like "What is the one thing that is most likely to interfere with your success in this class?" which hopefully allows them to let me know those challenges thy are facing.

Wisdom Wall Walkthrough

This is my wisdom wall assignement. This assignment aims at humanizing the course by connecting students with not only their peers, but also student who have taken (and passed!) the class in past semesters. The goal here is to let students fell less alone and foster a "we are in this together" sense of community.

Bumper Video

This bumper video was created to connect what students are learning now to what is coming up in the next couple of weeks. This will help students see the similarities and differences between FOR loops and IF structures and prepare them for the upcoming content.

Micro Lecture

WHILE loops are a fundamental structure in MATLAB programming. This micro-lecture lets students see how WHILE loops can be used for controlling user inputs. It is meant to be a small part of a larger series of lectures aimed at the "understand looping structures" SLO, one of the SLOs that students have traditionally struggled with.