June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
26.729.1 - 26.729.11
Exploring Learner Engagement and Achievement in Large Undergraduate Engineering Mechanics CoursesUndergraduate engineering mechanics courses often represent a significant challenge to aspiringengineers because of the conceptually challenging course content and a misperceived status asfinal “roadblocks” before students enroll in specialized classes of a particular engineeringdiscipline. Further, large class sizes increasingly distance students and faculty from the teachingand learning endeavor – instructional and assessment methods become mechanized (e.g. onlineauto-grading) and, as a result, satisfaction and engagement for all suffer. In effect, thesefundamental mechanics courses become a major barrier for student persistence and success inengineering. Our study seeks to inform and improve these educational environments through abetter understanding of relationships between course engagement (e.g., time on task, methods ofengagement, changes in engagement over time) and achievement in select Statics courses at alarge, research intensive, public university.Though the written learning outcomes of a typical Statics course may be exclusively technical,the timing and nature of the course in the engineering curriculum position it as one that alsorequires students to develop proficiency in self-regulation and metacognition. Successfulstudents must learn to integrate knowledge and skills from several first-year engineering andmathematics courses, effectively manage time and study strategies, and develop an awareness ofwhat concepts may require additional attention. Though student success in any course is afunction of these interdisciplinary skills, because Statics represents such an early pivotal point inan engineering curriculum, student ability to self-regulate learning represents a critical area offurther study. Grounded in that argument, our study explores how often (hours/week) andthrough what methods (e.g., classroom attendance, office hours, independent problem solving,group problem solving) students self-report engaging with course content throughout thesemester. We collected data through a series of online surveys administered during class periodsbefore and after high-stakes achievement tests. We paired survey responses with courseachievement data (homework average, high-stakes tests 1-4, final exam, overall course grade) tolink students’ time spent on different activities to course performance. The initial surveyresponse included 257 participating students out of a total possible 350 students across twosections of Statics. Results show average hours/week engagement times well below theinstitutionally expected 3:1 hours outside of class to hours in class ratio in addition toconnections between particular study strategies and achievement (e.g. those dedicating time tosolving novel problems scored higher than those primarily reviewing past completed problems).With an enhanced understanding of data-enlightened relationships between engagement andachievement, we will share findings with students in the courses to help further cultivate learneragency and help them target specific high impact learning practices. Collecting, sharing, anddiscussing data related to overarching class-wide engagement and performance can help fosterownership and metacognitive awareness in both students and teachers. In so doing, we hope todirectly improve student success and persistence in engineering at our own institution while alsocontributing to scholarly discussions on student engagement and achievement in large classes,particularly in engineering mechanics courses.
Grohs, J. R., & Kinoshita, T., & Novoselich, B. J., & Knight, D. B. (2015, June), Exploring Learner Engagement and Achievement in Large Undergraduate Engineering Mechanics Courses Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24066
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