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Mobile, Hands-on Experiments Designed to Enhance Student Comprehension, Engagement, and Collaborative Learning

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count

11

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/37512

Download Count

65

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Paper Authors

biography

Aldo A. Ferri Georgia Institute of Technology

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Al Ferri received his BS degree in Mechanical Engineering from Lehigh University in 1981 and his PhD degree in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Princeton University in 1985. Since 1985, he has been a faculty member in the School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech, where he now serves as Professor and Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies. His research areas are in the fields of dynamics, controls, vibrations, and acoustics. He is also active in educational research and course and curriculum development. He is a Fellow of the ASME.

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biography

James I. Craig Georgia Institute of Technology

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Prof. Craig has been on the faculty at Georgia Tech for more than fifty years and continues to teach as an emeritus professor and to develop classroom engagement methods and tools. His past research is in the general area of experimental structural mechanics, dynamics and structural control with applications to aerospace and earthquake engineering. He is coauthor of a textbook on structural analysis with application to aerospace structures.

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biography

Bonnie H. Ferri Georgia Institute of Technology

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Dr. Bonnie Ferri is a Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Georgia Tech and a Vice Provost. She performs research in the areas of active learning, embedded controls and computing, and hands-on education. She received the IEEE Undergraduate Education Award and the Regents Award for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. She received her BS in EE from Notre Dame, her MS in ME/AE from Princeton, and her PhD in EE from Georgia Tech.

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Abstract

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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