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Coach: A New System For Interactive Learning

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Trends in Engineering Economy

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.313.1 - 10.313.13



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Paper Authors

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John Ristroph

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1139

Coach: A New System for Interactive Learning John H. Ristroph University of Louisiana at Lafayette


Coach is an interactive learning system originally designed for engineering economics, and then extended to be useful to other disciplines. It provides professors with a comparatively easy way to implement computer-based tutorials, examples, or problem solving sessions.


Interactive learning systems encourage active learning, but they have proven to be very difficult to implement. Professors who have developed such systems [1, 2, 3] understand the benefits to students, but the development time can be prohibitive. This paper describes an Excel-based sys- tem named Coach that uses Visual Basic for Applications to provide a single platform for both implementing and conducting interactive learning sessions.

There are two levels to the design of such a system. The first consideration is how the final end product will appear to students, and the second dimension is to provide an effective developmen- tal environment for professors. The next section shows the system from a student’s viewpoint using a fairly basic example. Then the following section explains a professor’s implementation, and provides an overview of the system. The last section provides a brief summary and discusses potential impacts of the system on engineering education.

Student’s Perspective

Students see a display area with a question followed by graphics and text, including equations using typical engineering notation. Beneath the display area are steps consisting of prompts or other instructions provided by a professor. Initially, only the text of the first step is visible, and then other steps appear as the student progresses. Students respond to these, and then feedback occurs using text, graphics, screen effects, or sound. Figures 1 through 7 on the following pages show this process. Students can revisit steps and experiment, or press Clear and start over. Press- ing Mute toggles sound effects on and off, and Help provides assistance in using Coach.

Interactive Process. Figure 1 illustrates using a dropdown box to respond to a prompt. Other re- sponse mechanisms are screen hot spots and the traditional method of typing followed by press- ing Enter. Figure 2 shows the result of a wrong answer to Step 1 in which the response back- ground becomes red and a feedback box makes a suggestion. The cursor is placed back on the incorrect response cell for another try.

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering

Ristroph, J. (2005, June), Coach: A New System For Interactive Learning Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14301

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