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Casey Ankeny

Director of Graduate Studies for the MS Program in Biomedical Engineering

Casey Ankeny

Creating an environment where students feel comfortable to reach out is the most impactful action I can take to support their learning and progress.”

Casey Ankeny is the director of graduate studies (DGS) and an associate professor of instruction for the MS program in Biomedical Engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering. She received her PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University. Her research investigates cyber-based student engagement strategies in flipped and traditional biomedical engineering courses as well as the implementation of standards-based grading with reflection. 

How long have you been in the DGS role?   

4 years as the director of MS program in Biomedical Engineering 

What is the most rewarding part of being a DGS?

The most rewarding part of being a DGS is interacting with students throughout their entire time at Northwestern. I enjoy learning about their evolving interests, providing resources, and supporting them along the way!

What advice would you give to someone just beginning as a DGS?

For someone just starting out as DGS, consider ways to let your students know you are always there to help them. Communicate often with students about their progress toward graduation and upcoming deadlines. I suggest having commonly-used resources at the ready and knowing where to refer students. Be sure to direct your students to the current handbook at orientation.

What have you learned from being a DGS?

Creating an environment where students feel comfortable to reach out is the most impactful action I can take to support their learning and progress.

How would you describe your research and/or work to a non-academic audience?

I am a teaching-track faculty member. My research interests are in engineering education. I am particularly interested in implementing mastery-based grading in my courses and using other evidenced-based strategies such as the flipped classroom and reflection. I am a reflective practitioner, continually assessing and improving my interventions based on student feedback.

Tell us what inspired your research and/or work.

My engineering education work is inspired by my desire to teach engineering students in the way that works best for them. I work to implement cutting-edge pedagogies in my courses and assess their effectiveness,

What do you find both rewarding and challenging about your research and/or work?

My engineering education research is highly rewarding because I can use the findings to improve my instruction and better support student learning each year.

What is the biggest potential impact or implication of your work?

My work with mastery-based grading coupled with student reflection has the potential to focus students on their learning (including areas in which they can improve) rather than a letter grade. Students not only will become more aware of their developing skillset, which they can leverage in a job interview setting, but they also will be able to strategically focus their attention on key areas. This is a skill that is important in industry and beyond.

What books have been especially important to you?

Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. There is a Northwestern course based on this book!

What do you like to do for fun?

I enjoy spending time with my husband, two sons, and two dogs.

Published: October 12, 2021

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