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Implementing Team-based Learning in a First-year Introduction to Engineering Course

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

First-year Programs Division Technical Session 4: The Best of the All: FPD Best Papers

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.913.1 - 26.913.14



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Paper Authors


Chao Wang Arizona State University

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Chao Wang received her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from University of Wisconsin, Madison. She is currently a lecturer in Ira. A Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University.

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Jennifer Mott California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo

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Jennifer Mott is faculty in Mechanical Engineering at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Her research interests include using Team Based Learning in engineering courses and first year engineering programs.

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Implementing Team Based Learning in First Year Introduction to Engineering CourseOptimizing student learning has been the goal of many active learning techniques such asproblem based learning and cooperative learning. This paper will discuss in particular theexperience and evaluation of implementing Team Based Learning (TBL) in a freshmanintroduction to engineering course. The introduction to engineering course is a 15-week 2-credithour course structured as a one hour lecture and three hour lab per week. The course introducesstudents to engineering design process, engineering model and drawing, MATLAB, teamwork,technical communication and project management. Basic disciplinary knowledge is also coveredto help students with their half semester long multi-disciplinary design project. During the firsthalf of the semester, the lectures are used to introduce core course concepts; for the second half,they are exploratory in nature and cover different applications of engineering. The format oflectures usually begins with instructor delivering the course content followed by student exerciseand/or group work. The labs are used to reinforce lecture concepts through hands-on exercise forthe first half of the semester and students working on their design project for the second half.Feedback from the students towards this course has been positive. Student liked the hands-onexperience during the lab but many thought the lectures were unnecessary and didn’t contributemuch to their learning.To better engage students in the lectures, team based learning is implemented. TBL has beenshown to be an effective collaborative learning tool and has been successfully implemented inprofessional schools such as medical, pharmacy and nursing schools. Its use in undergraduateprograms in engineering, sciences and humanities has been growing. Unlike other active learningstrategies, TBL involves a prescribed sequence of individual work, group work, immediatefeedback and applications. There are many challenges implementing TBL in this particularscenario: short lecture time, small group size, compact learning schedule. Despite thesedifficulties, TBL is implemented in lectures in three sections of introduction to engineeringcourse with 40 students each in the Fall of 2014. The effectiveness of the TBL approach will beevaluated using the Team-Based Learning Student Assessment Instrument (TBL-SAI) survey atthe end of semester. TBL-SAI measures the student responses in three categories: studentaccountability, preference for lecture or team-based learning and student’s satisfaction with TBL.With the same course materials but delivered in different format, the score of a comprehensiveexam will also be used to compare if there is any difference in student’s competency inmastering the course materials between the students of Fall of 2014 with the adoption of TBLand the students of Fall of 2013 without. In addition, the anonymous end of term student courseevaluations will be used to show if there is any change in student perception in both the courseand the instructor between the two groups of students with and without the use of TBL.

Wang, C., & Mott, J. (2015, June), Implementing Team-based Learning in a First-year Introduction to Engineering Course Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24250

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2015 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015