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Challenges and Successes in Synchronous Cohort-Based International Education

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Graduate Studies Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Page Count

11

DOI

10.18260/1-2--36787

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/36787

Download Count

177

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Paper Authors

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Tilman Wolf University of Massachusetts Amherst Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-0449-0441

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Tilman Wolf is Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. As Associate Dean of Engineering, he led major initiatives in the College of Engineering, including the establishment of a new Department of Biomedical Engineering and its degree programs, implementation of a new cohort-based distance education M.S. program, and development of a training program for graduate students who teach the college-wide freshman seminar. He is engaged in research and teaching in the areas of computer networks, cybersecurity, and embedded systems.

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Russell Tessier University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Russell Tessier received the B.S. degree in computer and systems engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY in 1989, and the S.M. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, in 1992 and 1999, respectively. He is currently Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His current research interests include computer architecture and field-programmable devices.

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Yadi Eslami University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Dr. Yadi Eslami is a senior lecturer at the ECE department of UMASS Amherst. He is the coordinator and an instructor of the Field Degree program. Before joining UMASS Amherst he has been an assistant professor at West Virginia University Institute of Technology. His industrial experience includes working as a design engineer at DRAM R&D, Micron Technologies Inc., Boise, Idaho, and as a system design engineer at SciTech AAG, Inc., in Toronto, Ontario. He has several articles and presentations in refereed journals and conferences and holds four patents on DRAM and FeRAM circuits. His research interests are reconfigurable processor architectures, special-purpose processors, embedded systems, and VLSI memories.

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Christopher V. Hollot University of Massachusetts Amherst

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C.V. Hollot received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Rochester in 1984 after which he
joined the ECE Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst where he is presently Department Head. His research interests are in the theory and application of feedback control.

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George Bryan Polivka Shorelight Education

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Bryan Polivka is currently the Senior Director for Shorelight Education, focused on instructional design and learning architecture for Field Degrees. Over the course of his career he has helped schools, universities, corporations, and non- profits by providing both strategy and strategically positioned product. He and his teams have built online, hybrid, and live distance programs for and with UMass Amherst, Harvard, Wharton, Johns Hopkins, Stanford, Notre Dame, SMU, Babson, UT Austin, Southern Cal, Carnegie-Mellon, UMass Boston, the University of Liverpool, and Universidad del Valle de Mexico. Among his awards are the Most Significant Achievement by an Individual from the US Distance Learning Association, and a national Emmy for a documentary he wrote and produced.

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Abstract

To increase enrollment, universities have expanded their offerings to international graduate students beyond residential studies. Advances in teaching and learning technology have played a key role in enabling remote instruction to these students. In particular, synchronous instruction and engagement with peers within a cohort have been shown to improve the educational experience and lead to high persistence rates.

It has previously been reported that instructional technology can be used to teach a full master’s degree program in electrical and computer engineering to international graduate students in a synchronous fashion. To increase engagement, students study in the program as cohorts and collaborate in the classroom and in completing a significant engineering project. This technology platform allows a single instructor to teach live to multiple classrooms (before COVID-19) and a large number of students at home (during COVID-19). This technology facilitates in-class assessment, proctored examinations, and project-based collaboration.

In this paper, we address some of the challenges in this domain based on our experience of teaching in this modality for over 10 semesters. We review how we have performed in-class assessments, conducted remote exams for student cohorts, and implemented group-based design project courses. We discuss our use of technology to support our educational objectives while overcoming limitations. We believe that our experiences are valuable to other instructors and institutions as they shift toward remote instruction due to ongoing public health concerns related to COVID-19 and a broader need to provide alternative modes of graduate instruction.

Wolf, T., & Tessier, R., & Eslami, Y., & Hollot, C. V., & Polivka, G. B. (2021, July), Challenges and Successes in Synchronous Cohort-Based International Education Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36787

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