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A Case Study: Assessing Effectiveness of Online Instruction in an Upper Division Engineering Course

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2021 ASEE Pacific Southwest Conference - "Pushing Past Pandemic Pedagogy: Learning from Disruption"



Publication Date

April 23, 2021

Start Date

April 23, 2021

End Date

April 25, 2021

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Rebeka Sultana California State University, Long Beach Orcid 16x16

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Rebeka Sultana received doctoral degree in civil engineering from the University of California, Irvine. She is a project engineer at the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and a lecturer at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB). At CSULB, she teaches courses in water resources engineering at the department of Civil Engineering and Construction Engineering Management (CECEM).
Sultana’s research focuses on water resources engineering and hydrology. Due to her passion in student learning and success, she is also involved in research in engineering education. She has published several peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings in her research areas as well as in engineering education. In her teaching pursuits, Sultana integrates real world examples and research with the theoretical knowledge to prepare the future engineers. She has been involved with American Society of Engineering Education Pacific South West section for the past three years. In her current position, Relations with Industry, she collaborates with industry partners to bring their insight in engineering education.
She is licensed Professional Engineer from the state of California.

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With the invention of the World Wide Web in 1992, online education emerged and expanded at all levels of education. Ease of accessibility, interest in lifelong learning along with time and cost savings allowed universities to embrace this new pedagogical model. Still, critics of online education finds the model to commercialize education, isolate students and faculty and may reduce standards or even devalue university degrees. Therefore, face-to-face instruction continues to be the preferred mode of instructions where students and instructors can communicate and interact inside and outside the classroom. However, with this year’s COVID-19 pandemic students were not left with any choice but to learn virtually. Many students and instructors who never had any online learning experience were forced to quickly adapt to virtual classroom in the middle of the semester. This unprecedented transition affected student’s performance and their grades as well as students’ ratings of instructors.

The primary purpose of this study is to compare an upper-level engineering course taught at XXX university which has been only taught in traditional face-to-face format before the pandemic and synchronous online since the pandemic. To improve students’ learning online, instructor has modified the class delivery by redesigning course interface, including transparency in homework, and adding quizzes to challenge students’ understanding of the key concepts. Comparisons include student ratings of instructor and course quality; assessment of course interaction, structure, and support; and learning outcomes. Survey shows students who had previous online classes had mixed opinion about learning online and its impact on their grades. Based on the final grades, it can be concluded that the course redesign did not improve students’ performance compared to the course taught in the previous semesters in traditional classroom. Several key factors that can improve students’ success in the online classroom have been identified: interaction among students, feedback on their performance and opportunity to retake quizzes/assignments. Inclusion of these critical success factors will not only enhance online classroom experience but can facilitate learning in traditional classroom setting by in class quiz time from the class schedule and increasing face-to-face interaction.

Sultana, R. (2021, April), A Case Study: Assessing Effectiveness of Online Instruction in an Upper Division Engineering Course Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Pacific Southwest Conference - "Pushing Past Pandemic Pedagogy: Learning from Disruption", Virtual.

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