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Administrative Advice from Coordinators of Large-enrollment First-year Engineering Courses with Significant Active-learning Components

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Tricks of the Trade I

Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.135.1 - 25.135.12



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Paper Authors


Jenny L. Lo Virginia Tech

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Jenny Lo is an Advanced Instructor at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. She is currently Co-coordinator of a large first-semester introductory engineering course and has taught a variety of introductory engineering courses.

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Tamara W. Knott Virginia Tech

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Tamara Knott is Associate Professor of engineering education at Virginia Tech. She is the Course Coordinator for one of the three first-year engineering courses offered by the department and also teaches in the graduate program. Her interests include assessment and pedagogy. Within ASEE, she is a member of the First-year Programs Division, the Women in Engineering Division, the Educational Research and Methods Division, and the Design in Engineering Education Division. She is also a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and is the Faculty Adviser for SWE at VT.

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Thomas D. Walker P.E. Virginia Tech

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Thomas Walker is currently First-year Director for the Engineering Education Department at Virginia Tech, where he has taught for 23 years. His area of interest is innovation and reform in engineering education using appropriate educational technologies.

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Vinod K. Lohani Virginia Tech

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Vinod Lohani is a professor at Virginia Tech's Engineering Education Department. His research interests are in engineering education, hydrology, and international collaboration.

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Advice from Coordinators of Large-Enrollment First Year Engineering Courses with Significant Active-Learning Components Course coordinators are typically used to manage the logistics of instructing largenumbers of engineering students. Four faculty members discuss their experiences as coursecoordinators for three first-year courses at a large public university which enrolls ~1,300freshmen every year. The first course focuses on introductory engineering topics such asproblem solving, ethics, graphing, hands-on design, programming with LabVIEW, andcontemporary issues like globalization and nanotechnology. The second course focuses ondesign and problem solving from an electrical and computer engineering and computer scienceperspective. The third course focuses on design, graphics communication and MATLABprogramming. Enrollees in each course range from 150-1600 per semester. In each of thesecourses, the format consists of one weekly 50-minute lecture in a large classroom (150-300students) and one weekly 110-minute workshop in a small classroom (30-36 students). All three courses have elements of active learning in the form of small group discussions,problem-solving activities, and network-enabled polling and real-time collection/ display ofstudent-generated content in the large classroom settings. In the workshops, students areinvolved in group-based hands-on activities. The teaching team for each course has historicallyincluded up to 10 faculty, 17 TAs, and 15 undergraduate graders. Each course coordinator has 5+ years of experience in the role of coordinator. The paperwill discuss tips in management of personnel, hiring and training of TAs, mentorship andevaluation of TAs, hiring and training of graders, course websites, common assignments, and therole of technology in and out of the classroom. In addition, each course coordinator willelaborate on different approaches to creating course content, to obtaining buy-in from theteaching team, to determining the degree of autonomy faculty and TAs can have, and togenerating common tests. This paper is designed to provide useful information to those who may be coordinating acommon course for the first time and to provide new ideas for those who are already coursecoordinators.

Lo, J. L., & Knott, T. W., & Walker, T. D., & Lohani, V. K. (2012, June), Administrative Advice from Coordinators of Large-enrollment First-year Engineering Courses with Significant Active-learning Components Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--20895

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