July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
NSF Grantees Poster Session
Experiential learning can make engineering concepts come to life, giving students a real-world confirmation of the theory and concepts from lecture classes. All too often, however, undergraduate laboratory classes fall short of enhanced learning and are instead more notable for student dissatisfaction and/or frustration (Holmes and Wieman, 2018; Koretsky, et al., 2011; Hofstein and Lunetta, 2004). There are several reasons for this problem. First, organized laboratory classes are often used to meet numerous student outcomes such as those comprising ABET student outcomes (1) – (7) (www.abet.org). Second, organized laboratory classes are often taught separately from theory classes, leading to a disconnect from pre-requisite courses and uneven understanding among the student cohort. Third, organized lab classes often involve teamwork, without specific instruction or guidance on how to work effectively, how to divide up tasks, and how to handle conflicts. Due to advances in microprocessors and portable data acquisition devices, widespread student use of laptop computers, growing availability of affordable sensors, and the emergence of versatile 3D printers and benchtop CNC machining, there is an unprecedented opportunity to bring hands-on experiments out of the centralized labs, and into lecture classrooms, and even student dorm rooms. The portability of the platforms can obviate the need for dedicated lab space and equipment. Furthermore, small, portable hands-on platforms can be designed to target one or two specific learning objectives. This ensures that the concepts involved in the hands-on exercises are tightly coupled to the theory delivered in lectures and assessed in homework assignments. The paper will review progress in the development of new hands-on learning experiences.
A final consideration in creating an effective learning experience for students is the question of team dynamics. At the authors’ institution, the hands-on experiments are usually performed by small teams of students (2 or 3-person teams) that are formed based on seating proximity. At times, such impromptu pairing causes problems for a number of reasons. The authors are particularly interested in Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) issues that can undermine the effective learning in these teams when female or underrepresented minorities are involved. Since the teams are transient (i.e., formed expressly to perform a task within the context of a single, 50-minute class) there isn’t time to include teaming instructions at the beginning of each exercise. Thus, policies and procedures are necessary to promote collaboration, and the training must be intentionally designed to be as portable as the experiments themselves.
Ferri, A. A., & Craig, J. I., & Ferri, B. H. (2021, July), Mobile, Hands-on Experiments Designed to Enhance Student Comprehension, Engagement, and Collaborative Learning Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37512
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