July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Design in Engineering Education
The unprecedented global pandemic, COVID-19, significantly disrupted the higher education sector, forcing both institutions and their educators to rethink modes of content delivery. As COVID-19 restrictions slowly lift, many institutions are operating a hybrid course delivery structure: online lectures and small groups of in-person, hands-on learning sessions. To limit the further spread of the virus during in-person components, a cohort learning model is proposed. The cohort model would better comply with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s reopening guideline , and limit viral spreading through the model’s small and static nature. Furthermore, cohort-based learning can promote a sense of community and facilitate identity-building in online spaces . A similar cohort model was implemented as learning communities within a second-year integrated electrical engineering program, prior to COVID-19 . The experimental course utilized the learning communities to great success, especially in promoting active learning during the engineering design module.
The goal of this study is to identify the optimal student cohort configuration for an engineering department. An anonymized dataset of 81 electrical engineering students’ Fall 2020 semester enrollment records, obtained from the university registrar, forms the student network. Two clustering algorithms, Best Choice  and Modified Hyperedge Coarsening  (techniques adapted from integrated circuit design and automation), are implemented to evaluate the dataset and create cohorts. The ideal cohort is no larger than ten students, to prevent instances of large gatherings of students. The resulting cohorts are evaluated based on cohort members’ number of possible interactions external to their cohort. The Best Choice algorithm yielded more uniform cohorts that are less connected with other clusters. Results showed the cohort model to be a viable method of grouping students to limit cross-cohort transmission.
The future of engineering design education will have to be more agile in order to embrace active learning. Using cohort-based learning enables creative modes of content delivery, extending beyond the traditional lectures-based teaching environments. Cohorts could create a sense of community learning as well as function as a basis for novel integrated and flipped teaching pedagogy. Future studies are necessary to examine these cohorts in a real-classroom setting.
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Cao, S. L. C., & Behjat, L. (2021, July), Optimized Cohort Creation for Hybrid Online Design-learning During COVID-19 Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37548
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