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Engineering Education And The Internet: A Study Of The Effectiveness Of Web Formats On Student Learning

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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

6.429.1 - 6.429.12

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Paper Authors

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Jace Hargis

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Anne Donnelly

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Session 2330

Engineering Education and the Internet: A Study of the Effectiveness of Web Formats on Student Learning

Anne E. Donnelly1, Jace Hargis2, 1 Associate Director of Education and Outreach, Engineering Research Center for Particle Science and Technology, University of Florida/2Assistant Professor of Curriculum and Instruction, University of North Florida


There is an explosion of interest in internet classes at all levels of engineering education. The potential and advantages of the internet as an educational delivery mode are huge. The web provides learners with a wealth of resource materials at their fingertips, is available to students at times and locations convenient to the learner, and allows students access to experts across the globe. To maximize the use of this delivery however, the development of teaching materials must be based on a strong foundation of educational research, grounded in appropriate learning theory. To date, the use of web-based learning has out-paced quantitative research on what this media can teach and what type of student can benefit from it. There is a wide variety of ways to present material on the web and little research to guide educators on the optimum format for a given audience.

Constructivist learning theory recognizes that learners are active participants in acquiring their knowledge. A web course that allows the student the freedom to dictate pace, sequence and use of resources would be an example of a constructivist approach. The objectivist approach assumes that there is a structure to knowledge independent of the individual learner, reducing the learner to a passive role. A web textbook format would be an objectivist approach. A study of 145 engineering and science students was conducted to determine the relationship between the format of the web material and learning. Other characteristics that were measured were gender, age, verbal ability, self-regulation, and attitudes towards computers. Results indicate that there were no significant differences in student learning between the two web formats. No significant differences were found with respect to self-regulation, attitudes, gender, or verbal ability.

1. Education and the Internet

Developments in media and communication technologies are revolutionizing education. Cyberspace has opened an information highway. Technology has gained attention in education today because of its prevalence and its promise to provide low cost education; and it may help some people to participate more easily, to learn more effectively, and to enjoy learning more23. Given adequate access to technology, the internet can provide both teachers and students with an ever-growing resource of information. Teachers can introduce and use information from the WWW for instruction and supplement almost any subject matter. It is now possible to deliver lectures, assignments and information to anyone in possession of a modem and computer24. The significance of this new technology with respect to education is the ability of the educational superhighway to provide on-demand service; automate assessment techniques and improve instructional strategies. Used effectively, this environment has the potential to level the playing

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

Hargis, J., & Donnelly, A. (2001, June), Engineering Education And The Internet: A Study Of The Effectiveness Of Web Formats On Student Learning Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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