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Multi Section Freshman Classes With Labs: Lecture As Intro Vs. Lecture As Wrap Up

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Assessment Issues in 1st-Yr Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.951.1 - 10.951.11



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Paper Authors

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Mark Urban-Lurain

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Taner Eskil

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Marilyn Amey

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Timothy Hinds

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Jon Sticklen

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract


Multi-section Freshman Classes with Laboratories: Lecture as Intro vs. Lecture as Wrap-up

Jon Sticklen, Mark Urban-Lurain, Timothy Hinds Taner Eskil, Marilyn Amey

Michigan State University


A common instructional model for freshman engineering is the lecture/laboratory model. In this model, students usually spend two to four hours per week in a large lecture section typically of one hundred or more students, and three to six hours per week in small laboratory (or recitation) sections typically of twenty or fewer students.

Although not universal, the most common implementation of this instructional model is that lecture introduces material of a given “unit” while laboratory (or recitation) sections are used to provide hands on, detailed experience with applying knowledge introduced in assigned readings and lecture. The paradigm on which this implementation is rooted would be along the lines that students need a framework for understanding before they can apply material of a given unit, and that such a framework is best developed by students reading assigned material then hearing a professor go over the same material to emphasize important points.

There is a critical flaw in the standard lecture-before-lab implementation: it depends on students reading assigned material before lecture. If not, then lecture is unintelligible to students who have not read the assigned readings supposing the instructor hits the “high” or “hard” points of a unit, or lecture becomes a replacement for assigned readings supposing the instructor simply “plows through” material from the assigned readings. Neither of these two results is desirable, and neither places the freshman learner in a position to actively engage in her own learning.

An alternative implementation of the “large lecture/lab” instructional model would reverse the order of lecture and lab (or recitation). Students would be expected to read material, attend laboratory sections emphasizing hands on work, then at the end of the “cycle” students would attend lecture. The lecture in this implementation would play the role of “wrap up” for the unit students have completed - including making generalizations from the specifics students have learned, and demonstrating any common mistakes students make when applying the material of the unit. In this implementation, students are more or less obligated to read assigned material before their first unit meetings (labs/recitations) because in lab they must “perform” using what they have learned from the assigned readings.

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Urban-Lurain, M., & Eskil, T., & Amey, M., & Hinds, T., & Sticklen, J. (2005, June), Multi Section Freshman Classes With Labs: Lecture As Intro Vs. Lecture As Wrap Up Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14535

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