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Publications in VIVO

Zarske, Malinda Schaefer

Teaching Professor


Research Areas research areas


research overview

  • Dr. Zarske's primary research covers the impacts of hands-on engineering design and coursework on student identity - especially women and nontraditional demographic groups - as well as pathways and retention to and through K-12 and undergraduate engineering, teacher education, and curriculum development. Specifically, she is interested in the impacts of project-based service-learning and client-based engineering design on student learning, intrateam dynamics, and perseverance in P-12 through undergraduate engineering education. She is a collaborator with the CU Teach STEM teacher preparation program and CU Teach Engineering program to develop pathways for students to attain a secondary school STEM teacher license concurrently with a BS degree in engineering, math or science, as well as the nationally-recognized TeachEngineering Digital Library repository of vetted K-12 engineering curricula. She has extensive experience in developing pedagogy to facilitate equitable STEM learning in K-16 students, pre-service and in-service K-12 teachers. She is passionate about the value of hands-on engineering design for every student, at every stage of education.


  • Undergraduate and PK-12 engineering education, engineering design, teaching design, human-centered design, undergraduate engineering projects, project-based service-learning, engineering entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial mindset, engineering student identity, engineering teams, engineering DEI, engineering recruitment and retention, active learning, engineering curriculum development, pre-service STEM teacher education, STEM teacher professional development


selected publications


courses taught

  • COEN 1830 - Special Topics
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2023
    Explores topics of interest in transitioning to the College of Engineering and succeeding in STEM majors.
  • EDUC 2020 - Step 1: Inquiry Approaches to Teaching
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2018 / Fall 2018 / Spring 2019 / Fall 2019 / Spring 2020 / Fall 2020
    Invites science, mathematics and engineering students to explore teaching as a career by providing first-hand experiences teaching science/math lessons in local elementary classrooms. Introduces theory and practice necessary to design and deliver excellent instruction. Master teachers provide ongoing support and feedback. Meets weekly on CU campus (1.5 hours/week) and involves five visits to an elementary school.
  • EDUC 4513 - Education and Practice
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2018
    Meets during student teaching assignment. Includes topics of concern to teachers, such as classroom organization and management, lesson planning, assessment, preparation of edTPA, etc.
  • GEEN 1400 - Engineering Projects
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2018 / Spring 2019 / Spring 2020 / Spring 2021
    First-year students solve real engineering design problems in interdisciplinary teams. Design projects vary by section. Curriculum focuses on iterative design process, teamwork and team dynamics, supporting design with testing and analysis, and technical writing. Completed projects are exhibited at an end-of-semester design expo. Students responsible for contributing towards their design project budget and poster costs, and purchasing safety glasses (approximately $75).
  • GEEN 2400 - Engineering Projects for the Community
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2018 / Fall 2019 / Fall 2020 / Fall 2021 / Spring 2024
    Design engineering products for local community clients, with emphasis on humanitarian engineering and integrated systems with electrical, mechanical, and software components. Students are challenged to take design projects to a higher level by requiring an additional iteration through the design cycle and more engaged user-testing, in order to infuse student projects with the robustness necessary for public-use products.
  • GEEN 3010 - Circuits for Engineers
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2018 / Fall 2019 / Fall 2020 / Fall 2021 / Fall 2022 / Fall 2023
    Examines basic concepts of electricity, digital systems, circuit analysis, and circuit design. Specific topics covered include analysis of electric circuits by use of Ohm's law, network reduction, node and loop analysis, Thevenin and Norton theorems, DC and AC signals, transient response of simple circuits, basic diode and transistor circuits, operational amplifiers, and microcontrollers. Students are challenged to integrate their knowledge in a final design project.
  • GEEN 3400 - Invention and Innovation
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2021 / Spring 2022 / Fall 2022 / Fall 2023
    Introduction to business development and product innovation with a hands-on approach. Students explore the invention process, hone their engineering design skills, and explore the initial stages of entrepreneurship (patenting, intellectual property, marketing research, and raising capital). Student teams design, create, and test a commercial product, and exhibit at an end-of-semester design expo.
  • GEEN 4400 - Teaching Design
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2019 / Spring 2020 / Spring 2021 / Spring 2024
    Examines teaching engineering design to a variety of audiences including secondary schools, project teams, and other communities. Students examine the process of teaching hands-on design including scoping, stages of team evolution, and iteration. Students also explore different design methods, the development of engineering identity, and the interface between engineering and society. Students practice integrating design thinking into local schools and companies, develop ready-to-use tools and resources, and explore the design education literature.
  • GRTE 5030 - Graduate Natural Sciences for Teachers
    Primary Instructor - Summer 2020
    Addresses special topics in natural sciences with an emphasis on building conceptual understanding of content and enhancing teacher's practice in teaching this content.
  • GRTE 5040 - Graduate Social Sciences for Teachers
    Primary Instructor - Summer 2018 / Summer 2019 / Summer 2021 / Summer 2022 / Summer 2023
    Addresses special topics in social sciences with an emphasis on building conceptual understanding of content and enhancing teacher's practice in teaching this content.


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