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Implementation and Evaluation of Different Types of Peer Learning Instruction in a MATLAB Programming Course

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Uses for MATLAB in Mechancial Engineering

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Shanon Marie Reckinger Montana State University

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Shanon Reckinger joined the department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at Montana State University (MSU)in Fall 2015. She received her PhD in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder in August of 2011. Before her position at MSU, she was a Clare Boothe Luce Professor at Fairfield University in the department of Mechanical Engineering for four years. Her research interests include ocean modeling, computational fluid dynamics, fluid dynamics, and numerical methods. Shanon has taught courses in thermodynamics, numerical methods (graduate), fluid dynamics, gas dynamics (graduate), computational fluid dynamics (undergrad/graduate), fundamentals of engineering, mathematical analysis in MATLAB.

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Programming continues to be one of the most difficult skills to master in the early stages of the mechanical engineering curriculum. The disparity between students’ incoming and potential skills in a typical “introductory to programming course” is large. This bimodal population creates a huge challenge for designing programming curriculum and instruction methods. The techniques presented here are all themed around employing peer learning inside and outside the classroom. Peer learning has been shown to help both the peer leader and the peer learner. [1] With such a wide range of abilities among the students, peer learning serves as a way to enhance the learning environment for both modes of students.

Three forms of research-based peer learning were implemented in the design of a MATLAB programming course for mechanical engineering undergraduate students. This is a follow-up from the work presented previously on the backward course design which shaped this curriculum [2]. First, a peer learning program was initiated. These undergraduate peer learning leaders played two roles in the course, (I) they were in the classroom helping students’ with their work, and, (II) they led optional two hour helps sessions outside of the class time. The second form of peer learning was implemented through the inclusion of a peer discussion period following in class clicker quizzes [3]. The third form of peer learning had the students creating video project assignments and posting them on YouTube to explain course topics to their peers. Several other more informal techniques were used to encourage peer learning, which will also be discussed in this paper.

This paper will explain some of the details of how these peer learning techniques were implemented. Examples and case studies will be provided. Student feedback in the form of both narrative and survey ratings will also be provided. Finally, when possible, success of these methods have been evaluated and quantitative data will be presented.

Reckinger, S. M. (2016, June), Implementation and Evaluation of Different Types of Peer Learning Instruction in a MATLAB Programming Course Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25561

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