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Cooperative Learning Homework Teams In A Materials Science Lecture Course

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.303.1 - 6.303.6



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Paper Authors

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Susan Lord

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

Session 1664

Cooperative Learning Homework Teams in a Materials Science Lecture Course

Susan M. Lord University of San Diego


In an effort to enhance student learning, cooperative learning teams were incorporated into a junior-level required introductory Materials Science course for all engineering majors at the University of San Diego (USD) in Fall 1999 and 2000. The instructor assigned all students to teams during the first week of class. The teams were designed to be heterogeneous with respect to GPA and engineering major. Students were required to complete their homework assignments as a team turning in one solution set per team. They rotated playing the roles of coordinator, recorder, checker, and monitor. In each semester, over seventy-five percent of the students reported that cooperative learning teams had enhanced the course. About eighty percent of the students in each semester recommended that cooperative learning homework teams be used again in the next offering of this course. More than eighty percent of the students reported that their skills at problem solving, written communication, and teamwork had improved as a result of this course. This paper discusses the motivation for introducing these teams, the students’ response, and the instructor’s experiences with these teams over two semesters.


Working in teams, improving communication skills, and enhancing problem solving are all key objectives for ABET 20001 as well as for most engineering courses. One way to address all of these is to have students work in cooperative learning homework teams. Cooperative learning2,3 has been shown to have beneficial effects on student learning and benefits for the instructor including fewer and better papers to grade. Organizing the teams requires some work by the instructor at the beginning of the semester as well as continual monitoring throughout the course. To teach the students about teamwork, it is important that they be provided with a structure for the roles they are to play rather than just assigning them to groups. It is also important to provide opportunities to evaluate their teams. The National Effective Teaching Institute (NETI) provides excellent resources for organizing, facilitating, and evaluating teams that were used in the course described in this paper. 4

Course Structure and Logistics

Cooperative learning homework teams were incorporated into a required junior-level Materials Science course for all engineering majors at the University of San Diego (USD). At USD, this includes Electrical and Industrial and Systems Engineering. In Fall 1999, there were 27 students in the class while in Fall 2000, there were 18. All of these students were full time engineering students and these are typical enrollments for the entire junior class of engineers at USD. The class meets for three fifty-five minute periods per week and uses William D. Callister’s

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Lord, S. (2001, June), Cooperative Learning Homework Teams In A Materials Science Lecture Course Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9044

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