Crystal City, Virginia
April 29, 2018
April 29, 2018
May 2, 2018
Diversity and Gender
This paper will discuss the transition from a lecture-based multidisciplinary introductory engineering course to a revised version that integrates theory and hands-on practice around a theme of underwater robotics, including discussion of the design, implementation, and evaluation of the revised course. The course is required for all students (including non-engineering majors) at a small liberal arts college and is the first engineering course for the majority of enrollees. Final grades in the original lecture-based course showed a gender disparity in which male students outperformed female students that had persisted over the course of many offerings. By employing best practices in engineering education, with a special focus on inclusive teaching practices, the course was revised to a model that includes active learning (flipped classroom) tutorials and hands-on practicums. Students attend two tutorial sessions and one hands-on practicum session each week. Before the first tutorial session each week, students watch videos created by the instructors. Students take individual and team quizzes (following the procedure used in Team-Based Learning), which provide accountability for learning the course material. With the remaining time in the first tutorial of the week and the entirety of the second tutorial of the week, students work in small groups with significant student-instructor interaction on context-rich problems focused on real-world engineering applications. The students then take part in a 2.5-hour practicum session where they interacted with physical manifestations of the course content, largely focused around an underwater robot. For example, in one practicum the students placed their robot in a water tank with a buoyancy “spring” attached, then introduced a step input in motor force and measured the robot’s step response; they then used the output data to find the robot’s damping ratio and natural frequency.
Mastery of course content was measured in both the original lecture-based course and the revised course via a pre/post content test; other evaluation measures included a pre/post attitudinal survey regarding the usefulness of class content, intent to major in engineering, and understanding of the engineering profession and student evaluations of teaching. The results show a significant increase in learning and affective gains for all students. Furthermore, the gender disparity in final course grades has disappeared in the revised course and there is no difference between the performance of male and female students on the pre/post content test.
Lape, N. K., & Clark, C., & Bassman, L., & Spencer, M., & Lee, A., & Spjut, R. E., & Dato, A. M., & Palucki Blake, L., & Tsai, T. (2018, April), Erasing a Gender Gap in Performance in a Multidisciplinary Introductory Engineering Course Paper presented at 2018 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity Conference, Crystal City, Virginia. 10.18260/1-2--29534
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