June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
15.932.1 - 15.932.10
Organization of Teams for Group Homework and Projects
This paper describes the organization of student teams in engineering courses developed over several years of the author’s experience at multiple institutions. Students are assigned into groups of 3-4 students each for working on the homework. Homework problems are selected from a source other than the assigned textbook, since it has been found that as many as one-third of the students have access to the solution manual. All students in a group receive the same grade on the homework, and only turn in one copy of the assignment for the group. In order to help insure the full participation of all members of the group, on the day the homework is due, a quiz is given in class, in which one of the problems from the homework is randomly selected for the quiz problem, without any change to the problem. Selection of the students on teams follows best practices of grouping students from under-represented groups together. After that, students are grouped based on common interests gleaned from a survey given on the first day of class. In the group projects students are allowed to set their own responsibilities within the team. Typically one person will be in charge of the team budget, one person will conduct experimental testing, one person will be responsible for numerical modeling, etc. For the group projects each team is given an allocation of “Monopoly Money” that they use for purchasing supplies and paying for faculty and staff time to help them on their projects. At the end of the semester group project students give an evaluation of the performance of their teammates. Surveys were also given to students to assess the effectiveness of the team homework in helping them learn the material relative to working alone.
The author has experience teaching both a state school with large enrollments in engineering with resulting large section sizes for required classes (as large as 100) and a private school where the section sizes are kept smaller (20-40 for required lectures). While at the private school it is expected that the instructor assign and grade homework on a regular basis in the undergraduate courses, at the public school, collecting homework was optional due to the large number of students. The author tried several strategies, including not collecting homework and giving students a list of “suggested” problems with the answers, collecting problems at random to grade, and assigning students to do group homework. Collecting and grading a large number of problems from all students at the state school was never attempted due to the large amount of work this would entail, when the majority of the instructor’s time is to be spent on research. Repeatedly, when polled the students asked to have homework collected and graded, as they felt they needed the external motivation to help them study and keep up with the course material to be successful in the course. In response to students’ requests to collect more homework balanced with the instructor’s need to minimize grading time, a system of group homework has been developed over years of teaching. The methodology developed here was done for a junior-level fluid mechanics course, but should be generally applicable to most engineering courses.
To summarize, several different strategies for course organization and collecting homework have been tried: • Individual Homework
Post, S. (2010, June), Organization Of Teams For Group Homeworks And Projects Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. https://peer.asee.org/15930
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