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Evaluation Of The Impact Of Interactivity On Student Performance

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Factors Affecting Student Performance

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.605.1 - 11.605.16

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Paper Authors


Daria Kotys-Schwartz University of Colorado-Boulder

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DARIA KOTYS-SCHWARTZ is a doctoral candidate and instructor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in mechanical engineering at The Ohio State University. Her research interests include polymer processing, development of student assessment measures, gender disparity in engineering and innovative instructional methodology.

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Lawrence Carlson University of Colorado-Boulder

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LAWRENCE E. CARLSON is a founding co-director of the Integrated Teaching and Learning Laboratory and Program, as well as professor of mechanical engineering. He received his M.S. and D.Eng. degrees from the University of California at Berkeley. His primary educational passion is real-world design, and he spent his last sabbatical leave at IDEO in Palo Alto, CA, sharpening some rusty design tools.

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Derek Reamon University of Colorado

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DEREK REAMON is a senior instructor of mechanical engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he has taught Circuits and Electronics, Mechatronics, Component Design and the interdisciplinary First-Year Engineering Projects. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University. His foremost research interests include assessment of student learning, curriculum development and robotic controls.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Evaluation of the Impact of Interactivity On Student Performance

As dialogue continues regarding engineering education curriculum reform, supporters of innovative instructional methodology, such as active learning, are met with strong resistance by skeptics and proponents of traditional lecture methods. Though considerable evidence has been presented substantiating the benefits of active learning, the opposition to pedagogical change ensues as departmental resources diminish, and university reward structures fail to encourage such efforts. Furthermore, the overwhelming number of methods available to faculty can make the transition from a traditional lecture to active learning a daunting task.

At a large public research university, the first of three paired studies has been completed within a required senior level Manufacturing Processes and Systems course. Two equally sized sections were concurrently taught by the same instructor, exposing students to identical technical content, yet utilizing different instructional techniques. One section was taught using a high-level interactive instructional approach, and the other section was instructed employing mid-level interactive methods. This paper presents a new method for categorizing an active learning classroom environment by introducing the level of interactivity concept and explaining these levels of interactivity within the context of a unique experimental setup. Additionally, the preliminary results for instructional effectiveness, student conceptual knowledge gains and students’ confidence in their technical knowledge will be compared for both course sections.

Introduction Spectrum of Active Learning

Active learning has been broadly defined as “any instructional method that engages students in the learning process.”1 Bonwell and Eison define active learning strategies “as instructional activities involving students doing things and thinking about what they are doing.” 2 In his review of current active learning literature, Prince discusses that “the core elements of active learning are student activity and engagement in the learning process.” 1 These general definitions of active learning have inevitably led to a multitude of teaching techniques being grouped within the vast spectrum of active learning.

Furthermore, it has been acknowledged by several researchers1, 3, 4 that active learning encompasses numerous strategies that facilitate student activity and engagement. These activities can include (but are not limited to): the pause technique,5 class discussions,6 informal small- group approaches,7 formal small-group learning,7 brainstorming, debates, role playing,8 simulations, peer teaching and one-minute reflection papers.9 Alternative active lecture formats include the feedback lecture and the guided lecture.2 The most thoroughly discussed active learning methods include collaborative learning,7, 10 cooperative learning,3, 11 and problem-based learning.12

Kotys-Schwartz, D., & Carlson, L., & Reamon, D. (2006, June), Evaluation Of The Impact Of Interactivity On Student Performance Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois.

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