Asee peer logo

Lessons Learned in a Mixed-mode Teaching Experience

Download Paper |


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

Reassessing Your Teaching Through Turmoil

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Jennifer Retherford P.E. University of Tennessee at Knoxville

visit author page

Dr. Retherford is an alumna of the University of Nebraska, Omaha, and received her graduate degrees from Vanderbilt University. She currently teaches a variety of courses supporting the department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at the University of Tennessee. Among many structural engineering courses, Dr. Retherford manages the Senior Design Project course for all undergraduate seniors.

visit author page

author page

Kristen N. Wyckoff University of Tennessee at Knoxville Orcid 16x16

author page

Sarah J. Mobley University of Tennessee at Knoxville Orcid 16x16

Download Paper |


The coronavirus pandemic altered the teaching delivery modes for universities nationwide and in doing so, allowed for positive adaptation of the classroom experience. At the University of {School at City}, five different teaching modalities were offered to the student population for both the Fall 2020 and the Spring 2021 terms. Courses offered in new modalities were improved through implementation of new techniques in engagement, lesson delivery, and assessment. Specifically, enhancements were developed in three different types of courses: the technical communications course, laboratory courses, and a series of project-based courses. The technical communications course was changed to a rotating face-to-face model, for which lecture videos and assigned activities were performed on out-of-class days and in-class days were reserved for workshops. Workshops replaced the traditional guided learning activity approach with active learning in a think-pair-share format. Students were given strong and weak examples of writing to be able to give feedback to their peers and improve their own writing prior to submission. Students worked on improving their formal written assignments, and therefore improved their capacity for technical writing, during class rather than submitting their first writing assignment without any peer feedback or review. The workshop format also prevented students from attempting to write the entire paper the night before it was due, as they were required to submit regular progress check-ins in the weeks leading up to the due date. One project-based course was modified to incorporate an ePortfolio to improve records-keeping by the students in the mixed-mode learning experience and project experiences in the senior design project courses were enhanced through online modules supporting lesson content paired with workshops generating discussions-based learning. Assessment of learning in the project-based courses included a variety of new techniques, including professor-student interviews, guided discussion board engagement, and prompted video narratives. Lastly, laboratory courses were moved to a rotating hybrid system by splitting larger exercises into online and in-person components. This allowed for additional reinforcement of theoretical understanding and smaller in-person sessions promoting more one-on-one student contact. A peer review component was added to the course rubric to facilitate additional online student-lead learning opportunities. One upper division geotechnical laboratory course was converted into a semester-long project with group reporting and bi-weekly individual oral examinations. In this model all students were responsible for all course content, but teamwork and collaboration were encouraged and monitored through a mandatory online file sharing platform created for each project team. The teaching modality change for these courses presented an opportunity to improve the learning experience and the impact in these specific courses is particularly relevant as these present many fundamental skills necessary to be transferred to new learning experiences in later coursework. A summary of the teaching modifications for these three families of courses is presented herein; motivation for changes, implementation of the changes, and some reflective observations made by the faculty are shared.

Retherford, J., & Wyckoff, K. N., & Mobley, S. J. (2021, July), Lessons Learned in a Mixed-mode Teaching Experience Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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: © 2021 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