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Emergency Transition of Intro Communication and Design Course to Remote Teaching

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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

Best in DEED

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Clay Swackhamer University of California, Davis Orcid 16x16

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Clay is a PhD candidate at UC Davis working under the supervision of Dr. Gail M. Bornhorst in the department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering. His research focuses on the breakdown of solid foods during gastric digestion and the development of improved in vitro models for studying digestion.

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Jennifer Mullin University of California, Davis

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Jennifer S. Mullin is an Assistant Professor of Teaching in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering. She has a doctorate in Engineering Education from Virginia Tech where she was the first to graduate from the program. Her creative passion for teaching introductory engineering and design coursework through a “learn-by-doing,” hands-on approach is focused on inspiring student success and innovation. From her many varied instructional and professional development experiences, she believes in the power of communication, collaboration and community for a brighter healthier future.

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Due to the COVID-19 induced campus closure in spring of 2020, a large enrollment introduction to engineering design course was offered remotely, for the first time, at the University of California, Davis. Emergency circumstances necessitated a rapid re-design of the quarter-long course, with little more than a week to prepare. Despite the instructor and team of graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) having no prior experience with emergency remote teaching (ERT), key decisions were made to ensure integrity of learning outcomes during transition of the project-based, highly interactive, hands-on course experience from in-person to fully online during the early months of the pandemic. The main challenges involved the use of virtual tools to lead students through the engineering design process, to support team collaboration, to aid in the construction and testing of functional prototypes and, ultimately, to host an online final design showcase for the 45 teams. Other top challenges involved pivoting the teaching and learning of physical computing technologies (i.e., Arduino, circuits and coding) through interactive synchronous studio sessions in lieu of hands-on, in-person studio sessions. Elements of course re-design efforts presented in this paper illustrate the course transition from in-person to emergency remote format. Mixed-method data collection included pre/post Engineering Design Self-Efficacy (EDSE) student survey (Carberry et al., 2010), mid-quarter anonymous student feedback and an end of quarter student reflection. Mid-quarter feedback survey responses highlighted students’ [n = 98] preference for the asynchronous modified lecture format and inperson studio (47%) followed by in-person lecture and studio (34%). Results of EDSE pre/post analysis indicated significant gains (p < 0.05) in students’ [n=134] sense of confidence and ability to be successful in conducting and communicating fundamental aspects of the design process yet raise questions about their motivation and anxiety. End of quarter student reflections [n=136] provided further insight into students’ attitudes towards their design, communication, and technology learning in the online course. Analytical comparison of EDSE survey results from an in-person (spring 2019) and remote (spring 2020) course offerings provide a reference point for exploring opportunities for virtual design courses.

Swackhamer, C., & Mullin, J. (2021, July), Emergency Transition of Intro Communication and Design Course to Remote Teaching Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--37025

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