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Improving Active Learning and Instant Feedback in an Introductory Engineering Course. Caleb H. Farny Sean B. Andersson Dept of Mechanical Engineering BU Instructional Innovation Conference March 2013. Support from Office of the Provost and the Center for Excellence and Innovation in Teaching.

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Improving active learning and instant feedback in an introductory engineering course

Improving Active Learning and Instant Feedback in an Introductory Engineering Course

Caleb H. Farny

Sean B. Andersson

Dept of Mechanical Engineering

BU Instructional Innovation Conference

March 2013

Support from Office of the Provost and the Center for Excellence and Innovation in Teaching


Engineering mechanics i ek301
Engineering Mechanics I (EK301) Introductory Engineering Course

  • Required COE introductory engineering course

    • Fall 2012: 240 students; 4 sections; 4 faculty

    • Spring 2013: 140 students, 3 sections; 3 faculty

  • Two 2-hour lectures per week

  • Analyze forces on static structures

    • Graphical, mathematical analysis

  • Course restructuring: Spring 2012


Motivation to change
Motivation to change Introductory Engineering Course

  • Multiple sections, multiple faculty: disparity

  • Strong interest in more examples

  • Discussion of graphical analysis

  • Anecdotal evidence for success of in-class problem solving


Influences
Influences Introductory Engineering Course

  • Peer learning

    • Group environment

  • Enabling technology

    • Tablet input

    • Facilitation of student work

  • RULE funding…

Vision

  • Unified sections

  • Dedicated lecture time to active learning, group work

  • Incorporation of tablets for transmission of student work

    • “Real-time” faculty feedback, criticism


Lecture
“Lecture” Introductory Engineering Course

  • 4-person groups + tablet

  • Presentation of new concepts (15 min)

  • Example problem on new concept (15 min)

    • Feedback from instructional team

    • Wireless submission of group work  instructor

  • Student-led presentation of problem solution

    • Instructor facilitated

    • Compare, contrast multiple methods, common problems

  • Work posted online after lecture

x2


Logistics
Logistics Introductory Engineering Course

  • Instructional team:

    • Faculty instructor

    • Graduate Teaching Fellow (GTF)

    • Undergraduate Learning Assistant(s) (LA)

  • Active talking: 2 hours vs 30 min

    • Complexities reserved for problem discussion

  • Technology: iPad, stylus, drawing app, Dropbox

    • Enabler, not focus


Evaluation
Evaluation Introductory Engineering Course

  • Spring 2012:

    • Section A: Traditional format

      • 65 students, single faculty member

        • 8 LEAP students

      • In-class examples

    • Section B: “RULE” format

      • 56 students, 2 faculty members, GTF

        • 1 LEAP student

    • Same in-class examples, assignments

  • Comparison:

    • Quiz

    • Exam

    • Instructor and course outcomes

  • Anecdotal observations:

    • Section A: Quiet working atmosphere

    • Section B: Audible buzz, inter-group arguments


Section comparison
Section comparison Introductory Engineering Course

  • RULE section performed higher on all tests

  • Exclusion of LEAP students widens the margin


Overall comparison
Overall comparison Introductory Engineering Course

A B A B

A B A B

Overall GPA

Course GPA


Gpa dependence
GPA Dependence Introductory Engineering Course

  • Does demonstrated student record impact course performance?

  • Screen student pool for GPA below 2.7

  • Adjusted GPA: GPA without EK301 grade

  • Difference between course and adjusted GPA


Gpa dependence1
GPA Dependence Introductory Engineering Course

  • Does demonstrated student record impact course performance?

  • Screen student pool for GPA below 3.0

  • Adjusted GPA: GPA without EK301 grade

  • Difference between course and adjusted GPA


Gpa dependence2
GPA Dependence Introductory Engineering Course

  • Does demonstrated student record impact course performance?

  • Screen student pool for GPA above 3.0

  • Adjusted GPA: GPA without EK301 grade

  • Difference between course and adjusted GPA


Course evaluation
Course Evaluation Introductory Engineering Course

Easy

Difficult

Poor

Excellent


Results
Results Introductory Engineering Course

  • Higher average scores on all in-class tests

  • Relative improvement based on demonstrated aptitude level

    • 3.0 (B average) and below

    • 2.7 (B- average) and below

  • Negligible measurable impact on upper-tier performance students

  • Self-reported qualitative impact higher


Discussion
Discussion Introductory Engineering Course

  • Exposure of common mistakes

  • Multiple routes to correct solution

  • Instant feedback on acceptable method

  • Immediate application of new material, reinforcement of method

  • Peer learning

  • Breaking down student-faculty barrier

    • GTF, LA roles

    • Insight into student miscomprehension


Difficulties
Difficulties Introductory Engineering Course

  • Drawing on iPad

  • Group dynamics in auditorium-style hall

  • Lecture delivery, timing

External Implementation

  • Technology aspect a minimal issue

  • Focus on group work

  • Higher-level course requires more discourse

  • Focus on problem definition, solution strategy


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