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Challenges and Successes of the Transition to Online Format of a Lower Division Aerospace Engineering Class during COVID-19

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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

Learning in a Socially-Distanced Environment

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Lucia Rut Capdevila San Jose State University

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Lucia Capdevila received the degree of Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics Engineering from Purdue University in May 2004. Then, in June 2008, she received her Master of Science for her work on transfer trajectories to and from the triangular libration points L4 and L5 of the Earth-Moon system. She began her doctoral degree in the fall of 2008. In the summer of 2011, Lucia took part in NSF's East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes (EAPSI) program in Japan (JSPS Summer Program) to work with Professor Hiroshi Yamakawa at Kyoto University. During the summer of 2015, Lucia had the opportunity to work at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. From August 2015 to May 2016, Lucia completed her PhD research in absentia. In May 2016, she earned her doctorate for her research on transfer options linking the Earth, Moon, and the triangular libration points in the Earth-Moon system. As a graduate student, Lucia taught for Purdue University's First-Year Engineering department. Today Lucia resides and teaches engineering in the Bay Area as an assistant professor of aerospace engineering at San Jose State University.

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During the Spring 2020 semester, after the transition to online modality due to the COVID-19 pandemic, student engagement and participation level dropped significantly and student performance suffered in “Computer Programing for Aerospace Engineers” (AE 30), a lower division computer programming course in Aerospace Engineering. Cognitive empathy, metacognition, and zyBooks (specific brand of interactive online course material) are known to improve student engagement, participation, and performance. Thus, a cognitive empathy ice-breaker activity, a metacognition exam reflection exercise, and interactive zyBook exercises were incorporated and implemented in AE 30 to help mitigate the effects of the pandemic in the new online environment. The current investigation presents the assessment of the activities and exercises as effective means of improving student engagement, participation, and performance in an online modality amid a pandemic during the Spring 2020 semester. Instructor observations revealed that the cognitive empathy ice-breaker was a powerful way to allow students to share difficult emotions but created a distracting and intimidating atmosphere. However, after the cognitive empathy ice-breaker, students were more engaged and participative than on other days. The metacognition exam reflection and interactive zyBook exercises were found to be moderately correlated to improved student performance.

Capdevila, L. R. (2021, July), Challenges and Successes of the Transition to Online Format of a Lower Division Aerospace Engineering Class during COVID-19 Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36788

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