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Impact of Course Modality on Student Course Evaluations

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Engineering Education During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Matthew Aldeman Illinois State University

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Matthew Aldeman is an Associate Professor of Technology at Illinois State University, where he teaches in the Sustainable & Renewable Energy and Engineering Technology undergraduate programs. Matt joined the Technology department faculty after working at the Illinois State University Center for Renewable Energy for over five years. Previously, he worked at General Electric as a wind site manager at the Grand Ridge and Rail Splitter wind projects. Matt’s experience also includes service in the U.S. Navy as a nuclear propulsion officer and leader of the Reactor Electrical division on the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis. Matt is an honors graduate of the U.S. Naval Nuclear Power School and holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Northwestern University, a Master of Engineering Management from Old Dominion University, and a Ph.D. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology.

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Theodore J. Branoff Illinois State University

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Dr. Branoff is a professor and chair of the Department of Technology at Illinois State University. He taught engineering graphics, computer-aided design, descriptive geometry, and instructional design courses in the College of Education at North Carolina State University from 1986-2014. He also worked for Siemens-Switchgear Division and for Measurement Group, Inc. Dr. Branoff's research interests include constraint-based solid modeling strategies and spatial visualization abilities in undergraduate students. He has conducted CAD and Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing workshops for both industry and education professionals. Dr. Branoff served as President of the International Society for Geometry and Graphics from 2009-2012. In 2013 he was elected into the Academy of Fellows of the ASEE, and in 2014 he received the Distinguished Service Award from the Engineering Design Graphics Division of ASEE. In April of 2015 Dr. Branoff received the Orthogonal Medal for distinguished service in graphic science from the Technology, Engineering and Design Education faculty at North Carolina State University.

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Instructors at universities all around the world have been forced to rapidly adapt to the changing educational landscape that the COVID-19 pandemic has created. Most universities switched to exclusively online instruction in the middle of March, 2020, and finished the 2020-2021 academic year without returning to face-to-face instruction. The fall semester of 2020 brought an increased diversity of instructional modalities. Some universities have remained exclusively online, while others have returned to face-to-face instruction, albeit heavily modified. Some universities are utilizing different modalities for different courses, and have allowed the course instructors to choose which mode of instruction best fits their own needs, the needs of their students, and the objectives of the course. This latter approach was the path taken by a mid-sized public university. Instructors were allowed to choose the modality of their courses, and they chose between modified face-to-face, hybrid-synchronous, hybrid-asynchronous, online-synchronous, and online-asynchronous formats. In nearly all cases, the modality of the course was significantly different than the way the course had been taught prior to the pandemic. The purpose of this study is to examine how students in the university’s Department of Technology rated the effectiveness of courses using each of these different course modalities via their end-of-semester course evaluations. The university has used the IDEA third-party student course evaluation service for many years, and this study will use the student feedback data that is already being collected. This study will consist of two parts: first, a longitudinal study will examine how the student ratings have changed in each course for the Fall 2020 semester by using the student evaluations in previous semesters as a baseline. The change during the recent semester will be compared for each course modality. Second, the Fall 2020 student evaluation scores for each course modality will be compared directly against one another to determine which course modalities the students rate highest. The researchers in this study will work closely with the university’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) and will follow all protocols set by the IRB. The student evaluation scores will be anonymized so that the researchers will have no knowledge of which students provided feedback, which courses in the data set were taught by which faculty, or even which scores in the data set correspond with which specific course. Each course will be assigned a unique identifier that does not correspond with the actual course number, and the researchers will not know which identifier corresponds with which course number.

Aldeman, M., & Branoff, T. J. (2021, July), Impact of Course Modality on Student Course Evaluations Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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