Dr. Saira Anwar is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Multidisciplinary Engineering at Texas A&M University
This month’s highlight features Dr. Saira Anwar, Assistant Professor in the Department of Multidisciplinary Engineering at Texas A&M University. Dr. Anwar has extensive experience in teaching first-year engineering, undergraduate (Programming, Software Engineering, and Engineering Design) and graduate courses (Computer Science, Research Methods, and Curriculum Development).
Dr. Anwar received her PhD in Engineering Education from Purdue University and her current research focuses on assessing the effectiveness of various instructional strategies on students’ academic success and motivation.
She uses the Integrated STEM approach, to design, create, and implement engaging, motivating, and interactive learning experiences for diverse students, and engages students in both formal and informal settings by understanding the instructional strategies instructors use.
Dr. Anwar defines STEM integration as “an interdisciplinary approach whereby STEM disciplines are merged or co-taught within socially and culturally relevant contexts”.
Growing up, she loved to code and always knew she wanted to make a lasting impact in the world of Computer Science. During her PhD, she realized that she wanted to understand factors that demotivate students (especially women) from pursuing a career in Computer Science, which is why she eventually chose to pursue a career in Engineering Education.
Through her research and teaching, she continues to work towards acquiring tools that are needed for effective instruction, and understanding how different teaching practices can work.
Her classes focus on student-centered learning, and the use of integrated STEM approaches, especially in large classes. In order to promote student-centered learning, she believes that effective teaching methods should ultimately help students gain knowledge and skills that promote personal and social competence.
Dr. Anwar regularly involves her students in group learning class activities, and has challenged them with realistic and do-able tasks. In these group activities, students are urged to brainstorm ideas, generate multiple solutions, and approach problem-solving approaches with peer assessment and feedback.
Her advice for students pursuing Engineering Education degrees is, “Consider developing your profile based on your career motivation, and make sure you always have a healthy work-life balance.”
Additionally, Dr. Anwar has received several awards including, Outstanding Researcher Award (2020) from the School of Engineering Education, Purdue University, Appreciation Award in 2006, from Himayat-i-Islam Khawateen College and Post Graduate Institute, and the Outstanding Teacher Award 2013 at Forman Christian College, a Chartered University.
She is also a member and mentor of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) International Computing Education Research 2021 Doctoral Consortium, and a member of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST) since 2022.