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A Case Study: How Collaborative PBL Affects Learning of Minority Students in Engineering Courses at Senior Level

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

NSF Grantees’ Poster Session

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.22.1 - 24.22.10



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Paper Authors

author page

Jianyu Dong California State University, Los Angeles

author page

Pearl Chen California State University, Los Angeles

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A Case Study: How Collaborative PBL Affects Learning of Minority Students in Engineering Courses at Senior LevelIn 2013, California State University Los Angeles (CSULA) received a RIGEE grant from NSF toconduct an interdisciplinary research to study the impact of collaborative project-based learning(CPBL) on the self-efficacy of traditionally underrepresented minority groups in electricalengineering courses. The project goals include: 1) Improve the understanding of the factors thataffect the self-efficacy of minority student groups in Engineering; 2) Develop better ways tomeasure the impact of collaborative learning in the developmental stages of the student learningprocess in addition to the learning outcomes; 3) Design a more effective instructional system thatintegrates community inquiry to boost the self-efficacy of underrepresented minority students.To achieve the project objectives, research activities are conducted collaboratively between anexperienced engineering faculty and a learning scientist with substantial expertise on knowledgebuilding communities and instructional system design. The first stage of the research is anempirical study performed in a pilot course that employed CPBL to analyze its impact anddevelop a better understanding of the learning characteristics of minority students. In stage two,the stage one study results will be applied to design a better instructional system based on theparticipatory design strategy.This paper presents our current progress on the RIGEE project, which is focused on answeringthe following research question: “How collaborative learning components in CPBL model affect the development of self-efficacy of minority students? “To answer the question, a descriptive case study framed as a single case with ten project teams asembedded cases was conducted in EE440 (a senior computer networking course revised tointegrate CPBL model) in Spring 2013. Embracing a mixed research methodology, bothquantitative and qualitative data were collected through our study period including 1) pre andpost surveys, 2) team collaboration survey, 3) interviews, and 4) participant observation. Thedata analysis was grounded in in both social cognitive and situated learning frameworks andproduced interesting discovery on how individual learners’ characteristics, the social aspects ofcollaborative learning, and the pedagogical components in PBL interacted to affect studentlearning. Particularly, social interaction was valued by students from all ethnical groups as thegreatest motivating factor in CPBL. In addition to the presentation of the research method, dataanalysis and preliminary research results during stage one of our research project, this paper alsodescribes a plan to redesign the pilot course (EE440) using participatory design strategy based onwhat we learned from our study during the first project year.

Dong, J., & Chen, P. (2014, June), A Case Study: How Collaborative PBL Affects Learning of Minority Students in Engineering Courses at Senior Level Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--19914

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