Asee peer logo

Multi-Disciplinary Teams and Collaborative Peer Learning in an Introductory Nuclear Engineering Course

Download Paper |


2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Nuclear and Radiological Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Nuclear and Radiological

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.921.1 - 24.921.9



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Samuel A. Heider U.S. Military Academy

visit author page

Samuel Heider is Major in the US Army and serves as an Instructor at the United States Military Academy at West Point where he teaches Nuclear Engineering. He has a M.S. in Nuclear Engineering from Kansas State University.

visit author page

author page

Bryndol A. Sones U.S. Military Academy

author page

Brian E. Moretti Department of Physics and Nuclear Engineering

Download Paper |


Multi-Disciplinary Teams and Collaborative Peer Learning in an Introductory Nuclear Engineering CourseEmployers listed teamwork, critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and communication as themost highly sought after employee skills (Peter D. Hart Research Associates, Inc., 2006). Forengineering institutions these skills are certified through ABET accreditation and are testedthrough Student Outcomes including, ‘an ability to function on multi-disciplinary teams’ and ‘anability to communicate effectively’. Dr. Robert Beichner’s work in the ‘SCALE-UP’ program atNorth Caroline State University has highlighted the effectiveness of using small groups insteadof large lecture halls to encourage active collaborative learning in the classroom; many othershave also touted the importance of collaborative learning. In light of these best practices, multi-disciplinary teams at West Point were formed at random in an introductory nuclear engineeringcourse in order to promote student and team development and to incorporate collaborativelearning. Students majoring in engineering and science disciplines were combined with studentsfrom non-technical majors in order to meet institutional core engineering requirements. Studentswithin each group benefit from peer learning in collaborative settings where students shareunderstanding by teaching their peers and by being taught by their peers, and these habitualrelations last for the entire semester. Peer learning in a collaborative environment forgesteamwork within multi-disciplinary teams, and the products delivered demonstrate effectivecommunication of course concepts. The group members have shared responsibilities forpresenting solutions to design problems assigned to the group and for preparing small blocks ofinstruction presented during course lecture periods. Students were required to report their owninvolvement in group work and to rate their fellow group members’ level of participation andcontribution. Additionally, students rated the effectiveness of their collaborative learningsessions. Future work should include more collaborative exercises within the classroom as wellas a control group for performance comparison. 

Heider, S. A., & Sones, B. A., & Moretti, B. E. (2014, June), Multi-Disciplinary Teams and Collaborative Peer Learning in an Introductory Nuclear Engineering Course Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--22854

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: © 2014 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