June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
Educational Research and Methods
24.111.1 - 24.111.23
A Study of Feedback Provided to Student Teams Engaged in Open-Ended ProjectsIn this research paper, we continue our investigation of feedback in open-ended projects basedon industrially-situated virtual laboratories. Feedback has been found to be one of the mostimportant factors for educational achievement. We believe it is especially valuable in open-ended projects where student teams can proceed along multiple paths. Our industrially-situatedVirtual Laboratory projects provide a unique learning environment for the study of feedback dueto the instructional design and to the variation in student teams, project types, and instructors.Previous work has compared four student teams working on a single Virtual Laboratory projectand has shown that feedback varies widely for each of the four teams. This work extends thestudy to examine the coaching sessions from an entire cohort of 29 student teams working onthree different virtual laboratory projects. The findings demonstrate that feedback in an open-ended team project is dynamic and tailored to a team’s approach. There also are generaldifferences due to instructor and project content. This study seeks to characterize how feedbackis approached for different student teams, projects, and instructors within a similar instructionaldesign.The 29 student teams studied are in their final year of a chemical, biological and environmentalengineering undergraduate program. The students self-selected their teams and then chose towork on the Virtual Chemical Vapor Deposition (VCVD) or on one of two Virtual Bioreactor(VBioR) Laboratory projects. The students were tasked with defining a set of optimal inputparameters to manufacture a quality, consistent product within budgetary constraints. As a partof the three-week project, students were required to meet twice with a faculty member. Twofaculty members, a CVD domain expert and a bioprocesses domain expert, provided feedback tostudent teams during these scheduled 30 minute “coaching sessions.” The coaching sessions arevital for providing feedback to the student groups. The coach is able to assess the team’s currentapproach, help incorporate concepts from prior courses and guide the students to improve theirstrategy.Data sources include video recordings, student work products, and researcher observation notes.Recording transcripts for each team are analyzed from the first coaching session, in which thecoach provided feedback regarding the team’s initial experimental strategy for the project. Weuse an episodes framework to analyze the feedback by breaking down the discourse into thematicunits having a clear beginning and ending point. This method allows for the identification of theprimary themes of the coaching session and for comparison of how the feedback proceeded foreach student group. By examining a larger group of student teams than previously studied, weare able to address the following research questions: What are the most prevalent themes andtypes of themes that occur in the coaching sessions? How do these themes vary among studentteams working on the different Virtual Laboratory projects? How does the coach’s feedbackcompare and contrast for different student teams and across the different projects? And finally,what do the findings imply about the nature of feedback in open-ended projects?
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