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An Investigation of the Effect of Curriculum-embedded Peer Mentoring on Student Learning in Two Undergraduate Mechanics Courses

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Creating a Positive Environment for Learning

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Molly McVey University of Kansas

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Dr. Molly A. McVey is a post-doctoral teaching fellow at the University of Kansas School of Engineering where she works with faculty to incorporate evidence-based and student-centered teaching methods, and to research the impacts of changes made to teaching on student learning and success. Dr. McVey earned her Ph.D in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Kansas.

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Caroline R. Bennett P.E. University of Kansas

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Caroline is an Associate Professor in the KU Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering department, with a specialty in structural engineering and bridge structures. She works closely with KU Engineering’s post-doctoral Teaching Fellow and oversees the overall Engaged Learning Initiative in the School of Engineering. Caroline is responsible for overseeing KU Engineering’s active-learning classroom design and usage, prioritizing course assignments in the active-learning classrooms, helping faculty to advance their pedagogy by incorporating best practices, and advancing implementation of student-centered, active-learning approaches in the School of Engineering. Caroline is also active in contributing to university-level discussions in the area of course redesign, and has been closely involved with the KU Center for Teaching Excellence since 2006. She regularly teaches courses in bridge engineering, steel buildings, structural analysis, fatigue and fracture, elastic stability, and how to be an effective college teacher.

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Carl W. Luchies University of Kansas


Rémy Lequesne

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Rémy D. Lequesne is Assistant Professor of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering at the University of Kansas. His research interests include the design and behavior of reinforced concrete structures subjected to earthquake-induced ground shaking. His teaching interests include introductory mechanics, structural analysis, reinforced concrete design, and reinforced concrete behavior.

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An Investigation of the Effect of Curriculum-Embedded Peer Mentoring on Student Learning in Two Undergraduate Mechanics Courses The benefits of peer mentoring in undergraduate STEM courses are well documented, and the literature indicates that the greatest benefits of the experience may be to the peer mentor. However, in most peer-mentoring models it is only the best and brightest students who are chosen for mentor roles, and thus it is the mentors who therefore gain the majority of the benefits of the experience. As part of a study on the feasibility of peer mentoring activities that involve all students in a degree program, the effectiveness of the peer mentoring activities in two particular classes was examined to understand the effect of the activities on student learning. In particular, the research questions were: 1) What was the impact of the peer mentoring project on student learning, 2) Was there a differential impact on student learning among students at different levels of achievement (ie. was student learning impacted more among “C” students than “A” students) or among underrepresented students? 3) What was the quality of mentoring work produced and was this correlated with achievement level in the class? 4) What were the benefits and drawbacks of the varied ways the activity was executed between the two classes? The overall goal was to determine whether this activity was effective at extending the benefits of peer mentoring to all students involved.

We investigated the implementation of a curriculum-embedded peer mentoring structure in two sophomore/junior level courses- one was a Civil Engineering course (CE 310), “Strengths of Materials,” and the other was a Mechanical Engineering course (ME 320), “Dynamics.” All of the CE 310 students engaged with two types of peer mentoring. First, they were asked to respond to a survey about their academic experience thus far, using open ended written responses. These responses were shared with a freshman level architectural engineering course, ARCE 101, “Introduction to Architectural Engineering”. Next, the CE 310 students were tasked with creating short videos explaining relevant concepts to students in a prerequisite course, CE 301 (Statics and Dynamics). The ME 320 students were tasked with making short videos illustrating their choice of either key mechanical engineering concepts from a pre-requisite course (ME 211, “Statics”), or engineering identity/academic success topics.

To answer the four research questions, we will examine student learning data in terms of performance on learning objectives on the relevant exam questions in both CE 310 and ME 320 (hypothesizing that a forced review of material from prerequisite courses may improve performance on particular objectives) and by compiling themes from a reflection exercise. We will use faculty and student surveys to assess the participation level, quality of content produced, and student perception of the impact of the activity, and compare between courses. In addition, we will look at all data as a function of achievement level in the course and underrepresented status to determine any differential effects.

McVey, M., & Bennett, C. R., & Luchies, C. W., & Lequesne, R. (2018, June), An Investigation of the Effect of Curriculum-embedded Peer Mentoring on Student Learning in Two Undergraduate Mechanics Courses Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--29797

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