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Active Learning Techniques and Online Tools Applied to the Educational Experience of 2nd Year Materials Science and Engineering Students

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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

Tricks of the Trade

Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.134.1 - 24.134.18



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Paper Authors


Jennifer L.W. Carter Case Western Reserve University

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Ph.D. (2012) The Ohio State University
M.S. (2008) The University of California at Davis
B.S. (2006) The University of California at Davis

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Brian Yuhnke Jr Case Western Reserve University

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Brian adamantly believes that if teaching is boring for the faculty then it is even more so for the students. Brian is motivated to engage faculty in the use of technology to make learning fun and innovative. He is an Instructional Designer at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, where he develops and maintains the university’s academic technology architecture, and an instructor for the School of Education and Higher Development at the University of Colorado Denver. Prior to moving to Cleveland, Brian did sensational stuff with video, supported web conferencing and online lecture recording and researched emerging technologies for CU Online at the University of Colorado Denver. He has earned a MEd in Instructional Technology and a Bachelor of Arts in Video and Audio Production from Kent State University.

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Active learning techniques and online tools applied to the educational experience of 2nd year materials science and engineering students This paper will discuss the lessons learned from the implementation of active learning tech-niques, online assessment technologies, and classroom space into a redesigned undergraduatecourse. The Materials Science and Engineering Department has revamped the undergraduate cur-riculum to accommodate contemporary ideologies, a material agnostic approach, computationalmaterials engineering, and the expectation that students and engineers work on interdisciplinaryteams. With those goals, the first required sophomore year course was redesigned from “Intro-duction to Materials Science” to “Materials Properties and Design”. Several teaching approacheswere implemented into the course structure by the instructor during her first year of teaching:team-based learning, think-pair-share, and case studies.1 Online homeworks were utilized so thatstudents had the advantage of instant feedback on computational based questions. The appliedpedagogies were based off a teaching-and-learning study conducted over multiple years at a peerUniversity.2 Direct and indirect assessment of the teaching approaches, online technologies, and learningspace were conducted through comparison of student scores, P.I. weekly journaling, and studentsurveys at mid- and end of the semester. The course was structured in three weekly 50 minute ses-sions, which were split 60% lectures with interspersed think-pair-share activities, and 30% teamlearning activities. The classroom space was developed to promote active learning for groups upto six students. Each group has a large-format interactive touch-screen computer that is connectedwith a wireless application that allows the students to share their laptop/mobile content to the groupcomputers or to the room projectors. These interactive displays also provided students access toonline databases for case-study activities, Figure 1. Team-based learning activities were designedto allow students to work through topics that were previously identified as difficult for students.2Students showed appreciation at the opportunity to work through difficult topics in a friendly en-vironment, and expressed excitement at their ability to “get it” with the help of guided groupactivity. Case studies both as group activities and homework assignments, using the CES EduPacksoftware, were interspersed through the semester to assess the “Materials Design” component ofthe course goals. Homework assessments were designed in two parts: part A was multiple choiceand matching type questions, and part B were computational based questions requiring the studentsto apply formulas to solve engineering problems. In an effort to curb cheating, the computationalbased problems were designed so that numerical values changed with each attempt. Homeworkswere graded on a two part mastery score, meaning they only received credit for the homework ifthey mastered each part of the assignment. Students were permitted two attempts to achieve thenecessary mastery for part A and were permitted an unlimited number attempts to achieve masteryof part B. Over the course of the semester the P.I. observed that most students only required threeto five attempts on the part B assignments before achieving the necessary mastery. 1Figure 1: Pod style classroom set-up for team-based learning activity. Also the orange wall istreated to allow students to participate in group brain-storming sessions.References1 Vanderbilt University. Center for teaching activities/, 2013.2 Rebecca Rosenblatt, Andrew F. Heckler, and Katharine Flores. Group-work tutorials for an in- troductory materials engineering course. In 2011 Frontiers in Education Conference (fie). IEEE, New York, 2011. WOS:000300879800152. 2

Carter, J. L., & Yuhnke, B. (2014, June), Active Learning Techniques and Online Tools Applied to the Educational Experience of 2nd Year Materials Science and Engineering Students Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20025

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