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Implementation and Evaluation of Active-learning Techniques: Adaptable Activities for a Variety of Engineering Courses

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Alternative Methods of Teaching and Learning Mechanics

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Jillian Schmidt Missouri University of Science and Technology

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Dr. Jillian Schmidt is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology. She teaches primarily first and second-year engineering design courses, and her research interests include technology incorporation and team dynamics in project based courses.

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Nicolas Ali Libre Missouri University of Science and Technology

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Nicolas Ali Libre, PhD, is an assistant teaching professor of Civil Engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology. He received his BS (2001), MS (2003) and PhD (2009) in civil engineering with emphasis in structural engineering, from University of Tehran, Iran. His research interests and experiences are in the field of computational mechanics, cement-based composite materials as well as innovative teaching techniques.
Dr. Libre is the manager of Materials Testing lab at Missouri S&T, teaches mechanics of materials and develops digital educational resources for the engineering students. He had the opportunity of leading several scientific and industrial research projects and mentoring graduate and undergraduate students. Over the span of his career, Dr. Libre authored and co-authored 3 chapter books, 17 peer-reviewed journal articles and over 60 conference papers. He has advised and co-advised 8 graduate students and mentored over 30 undergraduate students. He has collaborated with scholars from several countries, including Iran, China, Slovenia, Canada, and the US. He also served as a reviewer for 6 journals and a committee member of 5 conferences. He is the recipient of the University of Missouri President Award for Innovative Teaching (2018), the Teaching with Technology Award in the Focus on Teaching and technology conference (2018), Joseph H Senne Jr. Academy of Civil Engineering Faculty Teaching and Service Achievement Award (2017) and the Excellence in Teaching Award from the National Society of Leadership and Success (2016).

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Active learning is a form of learning approach in which students are actively involved in the learning process through specially designed activities, often in groups, followed by reflection upon what they have done. The effectiveness of active learning techniques that are intended to improve students learning outcomes is highly dependent on the extent to which students are participating in the activity and also on the feedback they receive throughout or at the end of activity. While many studies have shown the positive impact of such approaches on students’ performance, many instructors still hesitate to implement active learning in the classroom. Typical concerns and obstacles include the difficulty of designing an effective activity, the required time for conducting the activity, the tools needed for facilitating the activity, and the willingness of students to engage in the activity. This paper is aimed at providing a library of active learning strategies that could be used in teaching various engineering courses, discussing strategies to ensure students are effectively engaged in the activity, and evaluating the impact of those approaches on students’ performance. The implemented techniques include pop-up quizzes followed with a group discussion, small group challenge problems with timed release of hints throughout the activity, and gallery walk problem solving sessions followed by online review of the problems and solutions; also algorithmically coded questions with randomly generated numbers were used in which students needed to collaborate in formulating the solution but the final answer would be unique for every member. An online learning platform was used that enables the instructors to measure the performance of students individually and as a part of a team. The studied teaching techniques have been implemented in various engineering classes at different levels (freshman, sophomore, junior) and different class sizes (20 to 110 students in each class). The efficiency of active learning on students’ performance was evaluated by comparing the grades on summative assessments with and without applying the active strategies. In addition, surveys were conducted to understand the students' perception on active learning and to identify the learning strategies they considered the most effective. Evaluation of student responses indicates broad agreement on the effectiveness of high-impact learning activities.

Schmidt, J., & Libre, N. A. (2020, June), Implementation and Evaluation of Active-learning Techniques: Adaptable Activities for a Variety of Engineering Courses Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34766

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