Asee peer logo

Applying Student Engagement Techniques to Multidisciplinary Online Engineering Laboratories

Download Paper |


2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Course Development

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.229.1 - 26.229.15



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Jodi Reeves National University

visit author page

Dr. Jodi Reeves is an Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Engineering at National University in San Diego, CA. She teaches courses in design engineering, engineering management, and data analytics. Prior to academia, she worked for almost ten years as a quality control manager, engineering project manager, and senior scientist responsible for failure analysis of thin film materials. She invented new quality control tools and supervised interns from local universities and community colleges as part of a $5.0 million technical workforce development initiative funded by New York State. She has published diverse articles on topics ranging from engineering education to high temperature superconductors and has spoken at many national and international conferences. Her doctorate in materials science and engineering is from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and she holds five patents.

visit author page


Brian Arnold National University

visit author page

Assistant Professor and Lead Faculty for National University's Digital Media Design Program, Brian is also a hybrid PhD student in Michigan State University Educational Psychology and Educational Technology Program. Career highlights include a five year stint as an editor at Nickelodeon Animation Studios, Dean of Academic Affairs for a Hollywood arts college, writer producer of animated short Invisible Hero and author of the textbook, Exploring Visual Storytelling.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Applying Traditional Student Engagement Techniques to Multidisciplinary  Online Engineering Courses and Laboratories   Abstract As engineering departments continue to expand their on­line course offerings, they face the challenge of translating on­site best practices into online environments in order to maintain student engagement and enhance student persistence.  This paper will describe how we applied and assessed face­to­face classroom techniques related to group discussions and laboratory activities to multidisciplinary online courses at our university.   Hands on activities that engage students and increase persistence confront new and unique challenges in multidisciplinary on­line lab settings.   To explore the student performance in on­line compared to on­site engineering laboratory courses, we have developed a multidisciplinary course in scientific problem­solving (EGR 320L) that is taught to both online and onsite undergraduate students in a variety of programs while covering the same course material, but delivering it in different ways. Students taking the onsite course meet twice a week with the instructor for 4.5 hours in each class for two months. Students taking the online course meet synchronously twice a week with the instructor for 2 hours. The students in both modalities were a mix of engineering and computer science majors; the online students took the course asynchronously from multiple locations throughout the United States plus military students serving abroad. The online course utilized live webcam­broadcast laboratory demonstrations as well as hands­on laboratory equipment that were shipped to each student to create remote labs and adapt hands­on laboratory learning to online courses. Live synchronous chat sessions, asynchronous threaded discussion questions, and other technology tools enhanced the online class and engaged multidisciplinary students in the course material. Student self­assessment of remote laboratory activities was overall positive, with many innovative suggestions for future iterations.   Group discussions are a key tool for promoting student engagement, but scheduling synchronous group discussions in an online environment can be a logistical challenge., Instructors use our LMS to gather students into one large virtual chat room.. Instructors divide large classs into concurrent satellite sub­groups utilizing separate “rooms”. Within these satellite rooms, each student has access to audio, video discussion, application sharing, and whiteboard  to document notes during the session. The instructor jumps in and out of each chat session, encouraging and guiding as necessary. Once complete, instructors can aggregate the whiteboard notes in the main online chat room and reconvene the whole class for individual group reports. Student self­assessment of this activity applied to a thermodynamics lab report was overwhelmingly positive. Both Engineering and Computer Science students reported enhanced analytical and communication skills throughout the activity.   Finally, techniques from digital media design classes such as “Google Jockey” were incorporated and assessed in multidisciplinary online engineering courses. Students arriving in the virtual environment were tasked with researching core concepts, then reported their findings to the group. This activity in on­line multidisciplinary courses helps to transform an instructor­based lecture into a student­led presentation which improves student engagement.      

Reeves, J., & Arnold, B. (2015, June), Applying Student Engagement Techniques to Multidisciplinary Online Engineering Laboratories Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23568

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2015 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015