June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
11.20.1 - 11.20.10
A Comparative Analysis of Online and In-class Versions of Engineering Cultures
At many institutions, online courses are becoming increasingly available. Yet, very little research has been completed on the effectiveness of online courses as compared to in class versions. “Online” is defined here to be a course in which all instructional and course materials are available via internet. At Virginia Polytechnic Institute and the Colorado School of Mines a course titled, Engineering Cultures, has been offered both online and in class. Based on the current Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology criteria, all engineering students should have some understanding of global issues, suggesting the importance of courses such as Engineering Cultures. If such a course can be delivered online, access can be provided to a broad range of engineering students. Online seems to be an excellent method to provide broad access to educational material, but is it as effective as in class versions of the same course? As part of this study, a multiple choice pretest and a posttest were administered to a treatment and control group. The treatment group completed the online version of the course and the control group completed the in class version of the course. Both groups also completed a survey at the end of the course. The results of this analysis were surprising: the treatment group displayed greater increases from pre to post test than did the control group. In other words, the online students displayed a greater increase in knowledge as measured by the test than did the in class students.
An online course is defined here to be a course in which all the instructional and course materials are available via internet. Often these sites are password protected and access is provided only to enrolled students. Materials can include papers, assigned readings, pre-recorded lectures, notes, exams and quizzes. Typically, software programs, such as Blackboard, allow the instructor to control when students view material and what material they view. This allows teachers to further determine when an exam is administered and the amount of time permitted to complete the exam. With the exception of face-to-face interaction, online has all of the elements of regular instruction.
Online learning, however, has yet to receive a great deal of research attention. Many questions remain concerning the appropriateness of online learning. For example, how effective is on-line learning? Is it possible to gain as much knowledge through computer interaction as with a professor in the room interacting with students? How does student learning differ in online or in class versions of a course?
A course titled Engineering Cultures was designed and first implemented by Drs. Gary Downey, Virginia Polytechnic Institute (VP), and Juan Lucena, Colorado School of Mines (CSM). Engineering Cultures is designed to teach future engineers how the culture of engineering differs across various countries. For example, there are large differences among the expectations and roles of engineers in France, United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States. This impacts the manner in which engineers interact and solve problems. Although these countries share many
Parkhurst, R., & Moskal, B., & Downey, G., & Lucena, J., & Bigley, T., & Ruff, S. (2006, June), A Comparative Analysis Of Online And In Class Versions Of Engineering Cultures Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. https://peer.asee.org/672
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