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Enhancing STEM Retention and Graduation Rate by Incorporating Innovative Teaching Strategies in Selected STEM Introductory Courses

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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

STEM Issues in ET

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

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Paper Authors


Nikunja Swain P.E. South Carolina State University

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Dr. Swain is currently a Professor at the South Carolina State University. Dr. Swain has 25+ years of experience as an engineer and educator. He has more than 50 publications in journals and conference proceedings, has procured research and development grants from the NSF, NASA, DOT, DOD, and DOE and reviewed number of books on computer related areas. He is also a reviewer for ACM Computing Reviews, IJAMT, CIT, ASEE, and other conferences and journals. He is a registered Professional Engineer (PE) in South Carolina and ETAC of ABET reviewer for Electrical Engineering Technology and Computer Engineering Technology.

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Biswajit Biswal South Carolina State University

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Biswajit Biswal, Ph.D.

Biswal is working as Assistant Professor of Computer Science at South Carolina State University, Orangeburg, SC, USA since January 2017. He holds Ph.D. in Computer and Information Systems Engineering from Tennessee State University, M.S. in Electrical Engineering form NYU Tondon School of Engineering, and B.E. in Medical Electronics Engineering from India. His research interests are machine learning, data mining, cyber security, cloud computing, RF signal detection (Drones), IOT, and big data analysis. He has more than 10 technical papers published in conferences and journals. He is also a member of IEEE.

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Eugene Kennedy Louisiana State University

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Dr. Eugene Kennedy is an associate professor of Educational Research Methodology in the School of Education at Louisiana State University. He specializes in STEM education and research methods.

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Gate-keeping courses provide students with their first and formal exposure to a deep understanding of science. Such courses influence students' decision to pursue STEM education and continue their college experience. Our records indicate that the many STEM students perform poorly or marginally in the introductory required courses and decide to change their major to non-STEM degree programs. One way to address this is using active learning techniques. The benefits of active learning have been supported time and again in the literature [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]. By comparing student learning gains in introductory physics courses, Richard Hake was able to show that interactive courses were over two times as effective in promoting conceptual understanding as compared to traditional ones [6]. Freeman et al. reported results from 225 studies across STEM disciplines, comparing traditional lecture to active learning [5]. In general, students’ average exam scores were shown to improve by around 6% in active learning classes. Additionally, students involved in traditional lecture were found to be 1.5 times more likely to fail as compared to those in classes with significant active learning. Some of the active learning techniques are peer review, flipped classrooms, hands-on technology, and cooperative group problem solving. Here is a brief description of these methods [10]. In “peer review”, students are asked to complete an individual homework assignment or short paper. On the day the assignment is due, students submit one copy to the instructor to be graded and one copy to their partner. Each student then takes their partner's work and, depending on the nature of the assignment, gives critical feedback, and corrects mistakes in content and/or grammar. In the “flipped classroom”, class time is devoted to engaged learning. Students are actually doing the “homework” (practice, application, and analysis of concepts) in class, often in collaboration with peers, and they can get help from their instructor and from peers as their questions arise. Therefore, students are expected to gain first exposure to concepts through readings or by watching videos before class, and they are held accountable for that pre-class work to ensure they prepare. In “Hands-on technology”, students use technology such as simulation programs to get a deeper understanding of course concepts. For instance, students might use simulation software to design a simple device or use a statistical package for regression analysis. In “Cooperative Groups in Class (Informal Groups, Triad Groups, etc.)”, Pose a question for each cooperative group while you circulate around the room answering questions, asking further questions, and keeping the groups on task. After allowing time for group discussion, ask students to share their discussion points with the rest of the class. The objective of this paper is to describe our experiences with the use of few of the active learning techniques in computer programming courses and physics course. The findings presented in this paper may be used by interested parties in STEM curriculum and course

Swain, N., & Biswal, B., & Kennedy, E. (2020, June), Enhancing STEM Retention and Graduation Rate by Incorporating Innovative Teaching Strategies in Selected STEM Introductory Courses Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34574

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