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Impact of Various Pedagogies on Design Confidence, Motivation, and Anxiety of First-Year Engineering Students

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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

First-Year Programs: Design in the First Year

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

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Paper Authors


James Blake Hylton Ohio Northern University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Hylton is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Ohio Northern University. He previously completed his graduate studies in Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University, where he conducted research in both the School of Mechanical Engineering and the School of Engineering Education. Prior to Purdue, he completed his undergraduate work at the University of Tulsa, also in Mechanical Engineering. He currently teaches first-year engineering courses as well as various courses in Mechanical Engineering, primarily in the mechanics area. His pedagogical research areas include standards-based assessment and curriculum design, the later currently focused on incorporating entrepreneurial thinking into the engineering curriculum.

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Todd France Ohio Northern University

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Todd France is the director of Ohio Northern University's Engineering Education program, which strives to prepare engineering educators for the 7-12 grade levels. Dr. France is also heavily involved in developing and facilitating the Introduction to Engineering course sequence at ONU. He earned his PhD from the University of Colorado Boulder where his research focused on pre-engineering education and project-based learning.

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Louis A. DiBerardino III Ohio Northern University

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Dr. DiBerardino is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Ohio Northern University. His teaching and research interests are in first-year engineering, dynamic systems, and musculoskeletal biomechanics.

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Although there is much discussion regarding the appropriate content and performance standards for first-year engineering programs, many such courses incorporate some element of engineering design. It is also generally accepted and supported by the literature that active-learning and flipped classroom pedagogies offer significant gains in student motivation, retention, and learning. This study seeks to explore the impact of such pedagogies on the design confidence and motivation of first-year engineering students.

[REMOVED] is a small, private, undergraduate university with a well-respected engineering program. A common introduction to engineering course sequence is taken by all first-year students in Mechanical, Civil, Electrical, and Computer Engineering as well as Engineering Education. In the first semester of this two-course sequence, the engineering design process is a central element. Each stage of the design process is explored in depth, each with its own progression of content. In the current study, this progression generally follows the structure of 1) pre-lecture interactive online module, 2) in-class content review via brief lecture, 3) in-class active learning via group work, 4) individual homework, and, as a culminating experience, 5) the relevant component of a semester-long team design project.

This paper includes examples of the online modules, in-class activities, homework, and semester project milestones. Online modules in this context are 5-15 minute web-based modules which include voice-over, on-screen text and animations, and interactive tasks. In-class activities include both short (15-30 minute) and more extended (multi-lecture) activities. The semester design project encompasses eight milestones spanning the entire course. In this paper, the progression between each assessment point is discussed and instructor commentary is provided regarding the development and implementation process. Lessons learned, both related to development and implementation, are relayed along with recommendations for future implementations.

To assess student motivation and confidence, a series of surveys were conducted. Survey items were taken from a validated, reliable tool developed by Carberry and Ohland [1]. Survey items assessed student confidence, motivation, expectations of success, and anxiety regarding a number design tasks. A pre-survey was administered to students at the beginning of the semester to provide a baseline for comparison. Partial follow up surveys were administered throughout the semester, as students completed the unit on each stage of the design process. Additionally, end of semester surveys were administered to assess more qualitatively how student perceived the value and usefulness of the various components of the learning progression.

[1] Carberry, A. R., Lee, H.-S. and Ohland, M. W. (2010), Measuring Engineering Design Self-Efficacy. Journal of Engineering Education, 99: 71–79. doi:10.1002/j.2168-9830.2010.tb01043.x

Hylton, J. B., & France, T., & DiBerardino, L. A. (2017, June), Impact of Various Pedagogies on Design Confidence, Motivation, and Anxiety of First-Year Engineering Students Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28472

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