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A Distance-education Model for Project and Lab-based Courses

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Efforts in Introductory Courses

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

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Paper Authors


Suresh Kumar Jayaraman School of Chemical Engineering, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74074

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Suresh Kumar Jayaraman completed his Bachelor of Technology degree in Chemical Engineering from SSN College of Engineering (Anna University) in 2009. He completed his Masters in Environmental Engineering at the University of Houston in Spring 2011. He is graduating with a PhD in Chemical Engineering from OSU in Fall 2015. His areas of specialization include process modeling, optimization and advanced process control. He also taught Engineering Computer Programming course for the past 4 years. After his PhD he wants to gain insights and first-hand experience in the industry and then make a switch to academe. He is really passionate about teaching and thinks teaching can bring about massive changes in this world.

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Jennifer Robinson Glenn School of Industrial Engineering and Management, Oklahoma State University

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Dr. Jennifer Glenn is currently a Lecturer in the School of Industrial Engineering and Management (IEM) at OSU. She attended Oklahoma State University, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in IEM. After graduating from OSU, Jennifer continued her education at the Georgia Institute of Technology where she earned her M.S. in Statistics and a Ph.D. in Industrial and Systems Engineering. She currently teaches IEM courses at the undergraduate and graduate level in the areas of quality leadership, engineering economics, Visual Basic and service systems. In 2012, she was named the CEAT Diversity Faculty of the Year, and she is currently advisor to the Society of Women Engineers.

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Karen A High Clemson University

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Karen High is the Associate Dean for undergraduate studies in the College of Engineering and Science at Clemson University. She also holds an academic appointment in the Engineering Science and Education department and joint appointments in the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering department as well as the Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences department. Prior to this Dr. Karen was at Oklahoma State University where she was a professor for 24 years and served as the Director of Student Services as well as the Women in Engineering Coordinator. She received her B.S. in chemical engineering from University of Michigan in 1985 and she received her M.S. in 1988 and her Ph.D. in 1991 in chemical engineering both from Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Karen’s educational emphasis includes: critical thinking, enhancing mathematics, engineering entrepreneurship in education, communication skills, K-12 engineering education, and promoting women in engineering. Her technical work and research focuses on sustainable chemical process design, computer aided design, mixed integer nonlinear programing, and multicriteria decision making.

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Recent increases in engineering enrollments have spurred interest in developing course structures that can increase both the efficiency and effectiveness of course delivery. This need is particularly acute in project and lab-based courses. One potential model is to convert the traditional learning environment to an internet-based e-learning system. Such an e-learning system can be structured to be essentially independent of class-size, time, and geographic location.

In the project described here, a beginning multidisciplinary engineering course, the e-learning concept was applied to “Engineering Computer Programming” (ENGR 1412), a 2-credit course, with a lecture session to introduce programming and engineering concepts, and a lab session to give hands on experience for programming to the students. Help sessions were conducted by Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) to assist students on projects, quizzes, and exams. The course projects were designed to introduce principles from various engineering disciplines to the students. Every problem in the course project focused on a specific component of the engineering design cycle, such as researching, modeling, implementing, measuring, and communicating. Herein, we address the transition of a project-based course, ENGR 1412, from traditional methods to internet based e-learning systems, where lectures and lab sessions are video recorded, and exams, assignments and help sessions are handled online. This transition was done in step-by-step fashion in order to gauge student response and performance in incremental fashion. We also address the challenges faced during the transition of this course, recommendations to overcome those challenges, and suggestions on how to implement a distance education program for any project-based course.

Exam scores and student surveys were used to evaluate the effectiveness of this internet-based e-learning system. The transition from paper-based examinations to online examinations has increased the class average on exams by 6% for a class of 310 students. Further, the students have taken surveys twice during the course, and both the midterm and final course evaluations favored the online exams and video lectures. In particular, students found the video lectures to be extremely helpful, as they can review the lecture content, as needed, to understand the concepts.

Jayaraman, S. K., & Glenn, J. R., & High, K. A. (2016, June), A Distance-education Model for Project and Lab-based Courses Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26310

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