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Assessing the Impact of Transitioning Introductory Design Instruction to an Online Environment

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Design Across Curriculum 1

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Christopher Rennick University of Waterloo Orcid 16x16

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Mr. Christopher Rennick received his B.A.Sc., Honours Electrical Engineering in 2007 and his M.A.Sc. in Electrical Engineering in 2009, both from the University of Windsor, in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Chris is currently a PhD student in Management Sciences at the University of Waterloo.
Since 2010, he has been employed with the University of Waterloo, in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada as teaching staff.

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Carol Hulls P.Eng. University of Waterloo Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Carol Hulls, P.Eng. is a Continuing Lecturer in the Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering Department at the University of Waterloo. She has been teaching courses in programming and digital logic since 1999. Always looking to improve classroom learning, she has tried a variety of techniques including Tablet teaching, flipped classrooms, experiential learning, and gamification. She received her BASc, MASc, and PhD from the University of Waterloo in Electrical and Computer Engineering. In 2016 she received the Brightspace Innovation Award in Teaching and Learning.

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Andrew Gryguć University of Waterloo

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Dr. Andrew Gryguć is a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering at the University of Waterloo. He has over a decade of experience in the field of solid mechanics, structural analysis and finite element modelling. Furthermore, he has had an integral role in a half decade long project developing the processing technique, and characterizing the structure-properties relationship in the forging of magnesium alloys for fatigue critical components. His research interests include, fatigue and fracture, cyclic plasticity modelling, and energy based damage models for a variety of different materials. Furthermore, him and his group have been pioneers in the understanding of the process-structure-property-performance relationship for forging of HCP materials, in particular, Mg alloys. He has been supported by the Automotive Partnership Consortium, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, Ford, Toyota, Cominco as well as others in the transportation and manufacturing sectors. Dr. Gryguć has also spent half a decade in the automotive industry as a structural analyst focusing on non-linear FE modelling, for structural, NVH, crash and durability objectives. Furthermore, he leverages his industrial experience to enhance his research program and teaching curriculum at both an undergrad and graduate level. In 2018 Dr. Gryguć was the recipient of the Toyota Automotive Safety Award and was the Interim Director of an Academic Makerspace heavily utilizing Additive Manufacturing technology to develop a variety of processes and components. Dr. Gryguć serves on the editorial board of The Metals journal and has been a reviewer in a variety of different international journals in the fields of fatigue, materials processing and structural integrity.

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In their first academic term (1A), students in the Mechatronics Engineering (MTE) program at the University of Waterloo are required to take 5 courses including programming in C++ (MTE 121 – Digital Computation), and a course which introduces them to the profession (MTE 100 – Mechatronics Engineering). For the last 5 years, these courses have included both a multi-week, integrative, open-ended robotics project with deliverables in both courses, and a 2-day long curricular hackathon dubbed “Tron Days” which further integrates the 1A courses together by having students solve an ill-structured design task. In previous publications on these activities, there has been evidence of growth in student self-efficacy (as described by Bandura) in the skills relating to these projects (viz. programming, design, and teamwork), as well as growth in student epistemological development (as described by Perry). As these courses take place in students’ first academic term, this personal growth is crucial to maintain, even as we transitioned to online instruction for fall 2020. Both courses under study (in both 2019 and 2020) have implemented Felder and Brent’s suggested instructional conditions to facilitate intellectual growth, albeit with different emphases; and so epistemological development is expected in both years. This paper described the adaptations to MTE 100 and MTE 121 to transition them to an online teaching mode, including the revised Tron Days and course project, and investigated what impact, if any, this transition had on student self-efficacy and epistemological development. Since 2013, students in first year MTE have been invited to complete a start of term and end of term survey to capture the impacts of the semester’s instruction on individual students. Statistical analyses of these data showed students’ self-efficacy beliefs in programming and design improved from start to end of term in both 2019 and 2020, and student self-efficacy beliefs in teamwork improved from start to end of term in 2020. Regression analyses predicting end of term self-efficacy beliefs showed there was no statistically significant impact on programming or design beliefs based on year, however year was a statistically significant coefficient for the regression model predicting teamwork self-efficacy with students in 2020 rating higher. Analyses of data on personal epistemology was inconclusive due to poor validity and reliability. Overall, students showed improved self-efficacy beliefs after participating in the remote teaching environment of 2020, similar to the students who were taught in-person in 2019.

Rennick, C., & Hulls, C., & Gryguć, A. (2021, July), Assessing the Impact of Transitioning Introductory Design Instruction to an Online Environment Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36719

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