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Effects of Out-of-Class Assignment Frequency on Course Performance in Mechanical Engineering Undergraduates

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Mechanical Engineering Technical Session: The Remote World

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Kevin Skenes The Citadel

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Kevin Skenes is an assistant professor at The Citadel. His research interests include non-destructive evaluation, photoelasticity, manufacturing processes, and engineering education.

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Jason Howison The Citadel

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Jason Howison is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at The Citadel. His research areas include computational fluid dynamics, wind turbine aeroelasticity, and engineering education.

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Emily Kate Bierman The Citadel

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Dr. Emily Bierman is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at The Citadel. She received her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University, her M.B.A. from Clarke College, her M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from University of Wisconsin, and her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from North Carolina State University. Her research and interests’ areas include high pressure combustion, internal combustion engines, and engineering education.

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Effective out-of-class homework assignments are critical to the success of an engineering curriculum. The number and length of these assignments play a crucial role in their ability to help students comprehend and retain recently acquired knowledge. Assignments that are too infrequent are often put off until right before the due date, at which point the effort put into completion is typically rushed and haphazard. Frequent assignments must be of proper difficulty, or students can get frustrated with the large amount of time put into the class with disproportionately small returns. The authors of this paper seek to examine the effects of the frequency of these out-of-class assignments on course performance. The Mechanical Engineering department at University X recently switched multiple junior- and senior-level engineering classes away from approximately weekly homework assignments. Students now receive smaller assignments after every lecture. The authors, who are the instructors of these courses, collected student data from several junior-level courses and one senior-level course over a span of three years. Multiple metrics were used for comparison between the two strategies. These metrics include time spent out of class on the course between lectures, homework performance, performance on in-class embedded indicators, and overall course performance. Furthermore, the student population instructed by the department includes a diverse mix of traditional and non-traditional students, including a number of veterans. These non-traditional students were affected in a manner differing from the traditional student body. This paper describes the comparative results of both homework strategies for both traditional and non-traditional engineering undergraduates.

Skenes, K., & Howison, J., & Bierman, E. K. (2020, June), Effects of Out-of-Class Assignment Frequency on Course Performance in Mechanical Engineering Undergraduates Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34510

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