Salt Lake City, Utah
June 23, 2018
June 23, 2018
July 27, 2018
Recently, our department was awarded funding to revolutionize our engineering curricula by incorporating design challenges into as many of our courses as feasible. Integrating hands-on activities into course curricula has been shown to increase students’ investment in learning and perceived understanding of concepts , . Additionally, active collaborative learning tends to improve comprehension outcomes when compared to traditional lecture methods .
Based on these educational principles, we restructured a biomedical engineering course that was primarily lecture-based to one that included team building activities, hands-on design challenges, and a final prototype design project. In-class group activities were designed to not only teach course learning objectives, but also to allow students to gain applicable engineering skills and make progress in their prototype design. The inclusion of these exercises decreased the total number of class hours that were devoted to traditional lectures. We are hopeful that this new course strategy will increase students’ engagement with and understanding of the material.
Data from this study was obtained in an undergraduate, shared credit (BS/MS), and graduate Biomedical and Chemical Engineering course (N = 26). The study was conducted in a classroom in a large research university in the Southwest over two years. Periodic assessments in the form of surveys, open-ended reflections, and homework assignments were used to gauge how students felt about the in-class activities. These assessments also checked for students’ understanding of course content and connection to the prototype design project. Traditional summative exams were given and compared to previous years in which design challenges were not used. End-of-semester online course surveys were also collected and compared to previous years.
Preliminary findings indicate that the integration of hands-on activities and the prototype design project positively influenced students’ feelings about the class and comprehension of course content. The students reported that the class structure helped them feel engaged with the material and allowed them to gain real-world skills such as task management and cooperation. When compared to the previous year, the students in the redesigned class had a higher average on the first summative exam, which covered the same material. As importantly, the instructor reported that she found a higher degree of satisfaction with teaching the course, due to the fact that frequent formative assessments gave her more opportunities to understand and address the students’ individual skills and limitations throughout the semester.
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3. P. Ralston, T. Tretter, and M. Kendall-Brown, “Implementing Collaborative Learning across the Engineering Curriculum,” Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning, vol. 17, issue 3, pp. 89-108, July 2017.
Lenz, K., & Chi, E., & Svihla, V., & Ista, L. K., & Canavan, H. (2018, June), Board 20: Work in Progress: Biomedical Prototype Design in Collaborative Teams to Increase Students' Comprehension and Engagement Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/29982
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