Ronald L. Miller

Professor Emeritus, Chemical and Biological Engineering

Ronald MillerProgressive engineering educators are transforming engineering courses from a passive, lecture-based delivery mode to active, student-centered learning communities in which students “make meaning” of what they are learning. With this transition comes the need to find better techniques for accurately assessing the complex activity that we call learning– traditional exams are often no longer adequate. One of my projects involves developing graphics-based interactive software which measures students’ intellectual development using expert system and neural network technologies. We are studying human experts who measure intellectual development using a lengthy and complex interview process and converting the experts’ knowledge into a series of open-ended scenarios which are designed to measure specific student beliefs about the nature of knowledge, use of evidence in problem-solving, and the role of authorities in seeking truth. Student responses to each scenario are scored by a trained neural net which places each student on a hierarchical scale ranging from a dualistic (black/white) objective view of knowledge, through a relativist view (all ideas equally valid) to a more realistic view in which the best answer to any real-world problem is contextually based. This project, supported by the U.S. Department of Education, is currently testing the alpha version of our software on student volunteers. When completed and validated, the program will be used to assess the longitudinal intellectual growth of our students while at CSM and will provide us with valuable data for further improving our curriculum and teaching methods.


224 Alderson Hall
1613 Illinois Street
Golden, CO 80401

Other Research Activities


  • BS, MS – University of Wyoming
  • PhD – Colorado School of Mines

Selected Publications

  • “Learning Conceptual Knowledge in the Engineering Sciences: Overview and Future Research Directions,” R.A. Streveler, T.A. Litzinger, R.L. Miller, and P.S. Steif, Journal of Engineering Education, 97, 3,279-294, 2008.
  • “Important Student Misconceptions in Mechanics and Thermal Science: Identification Using Model-Eliciting Activities,” B.P. Self, R.L. Miller, A. Kean, T.J. Moore, T. Ogletree, and F. Schreiber, Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference (electronic), Saratoga Springs, New York, October 22-25, 2008.
  • “Identifying Robust Student Misconceptions in Thermal Science Using Model-Eliciting Activities,” A. Kean, R.L. Miller, B. Self, T. Moore, B.M. Olds, and E. Hamilton, Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference (electronic), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, June 22-25, 2008.
  • “A New Paradigm for a New Field: Communicating Representations of Engineering Education Research,” M. Borrego, R.A. Streveler, R.L. Miller, and K.A. Smith, Journal of Engineering Education, 97, 2, 147-162, 2008.
  • “Misconceptions about Rate Processes: Preliminary Evidence for the Importance of Emergent Conceptual Schemas in Thermal and Transport Sciences,” R.L. Miller, R.A. Streveler, B.M. Olds, M.T.H. Chi, M.A. Nelson, and M.R. Geist, Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference (electronic), Chicago, Illinois, June 18-21, 2006 (nominated for best conference paper).

Honors and Awards

  • 2014 AVS Fellow
  • 2013 Dean’s Excellence Award
  • 2010 E.T.S. Walton Fellow, Science Foundation Dublin
  • 2001 NSF CAREER Award
  • 2000, 2001 3M Untenured Faculty Award