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Faculty Facilitated Study Group: Improving Students' Academic Performance in Engineering Courses

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Learning and Assessment in ME 1

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Gloria Guohua Ma Wentworth Institute of Technology

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Gloria Ma is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Technology. She has been teaching robotics with Lego Mindstorm to ME freshmen for several years. She is actively involved in community services of offering robotics workshops to middle- and high-school girls. Her research interests are dynamics and system modeling, geometry modeling, project based engineering design, and robotics in manufacturing.

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Bo Tao Wentworth Institute of Technology, Department of Mechanical Engineering

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Dr. Tao is an associate professor in mechanical engineering. He is primarily involved in undergraduate engineering education in the thermal-fluids area at Wentworth Institute of Technology.

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Many colleges and universities offer peer facilitated study group (FSG) for various courses, which approves to be an effective way to help students. At our institute, FSGs are offered to some generic courses such as Math, Physics, etc., which are required by all engineering students. Not many FSGs are offered for engineering courses due to the lower numbers of students in each subject.

Engineering Statics and Engineering Thermodynamics are the two fundamental courses in Mechanical Engineering, which are the foundation for other courses. Many students have difficulties with either Statics or Thermodynamics, or both. The authors are used to host study group to help students for engineering statics and engineering thermodynamics courses. Due to the number of enrollment increases in Mechanical Engineering program, student teaching assistants (TAs) are hired to run the study group. The peer facilitated study groups for Statics and Thermodynamics have one faculty and two TAs, each FSG is a weekly study session for all students who want to get some help for their homework and improve their understanding of course materials. TAs are recommended by faculties, they previously completed the course and have a grade of B+ and above.

The paper presents our findings for running the peer FSGs on Statics and Thermodynamics. The FSGs were very successful. There were 10~15% students participated in each week. Survey data show 85% of students believe that their grades improved, and 57% believe that their grades improved more than half a letter grade. Students felt that they became part of a learning community, and had a place where they were comfortable asking questions. The other benefits were: performed better on exams, understood the course materials better, kept up with the course more effectively. The TAs also benefit from the FSGs. They felt they improved their teaching and communication skills, and enhanced their understanding of the course materials. In conclusion, our observation and survey results show that students who attended FSGs regularly gained a deeper understanding the materials and achieved a better grade. It is a very useful tool to help students boost their confidence in their academic abilities and retain students in their engineering major.

Ma, G. G., & Tao, B. (2017, June), Faculty Facilitated Study Group: Improving Students' Academic Performance in Engineering Courses Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28352

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