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Peer Presentations as a Student-centered Learning Approach in the Nanotechnology Class

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Pedagogy and Teaching Preparation in Graduate Programs

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

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Paper Authors


Chang Kyoung Choi Michigan Technological University

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Dr. Choi is an associate professor of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics at Michigan Technological University. He has a strong passion for teaching and has research experience in multiple areas of heat transfer, phase changes, and biomedical applications. He is particularly interested in developing a versatile and highly capable multimodality imaging system. Dr. Choi has served as chair and co-chair for the visualization technical committee (K-22) in the heat transfer division of the American Society of Mechanical Engineering (ASME) and has served as a topic organizer of Photogallery-heat transfer visualization for ASME-IMECE, the ASME-SHTC, and other conferences. He is a recipient of the 2016 Michigan Tech Distinguished Teaching Award in the Associate Professor or Professor category. In addition, he is a Technical Group H (Mechanical Engineering) councilor of the Korean-American Scientists and Engineers Association (KSEA). He serves as an associate editor of the Journal of Flow Visualization and Image Processing, a guest editor of the
Journal of Heat Transfer, and an associate editor of the Journal of Mechanical Science and Technology

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Nancy B. Barr Michigan Technological University

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As Professor of Practice - Engineering Communications, Dr. Nancy Barr developed a multi-faceted technical communications program in the Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics Department at Michigan Technological University. She delivers embedded communication and teaming instruction to undergraduate students, teaches two graduate engineering communication courses, assists faculty and GTAs in crafting and evaluating assignments that reflect real-world engineering situations. Her current research focuses on gender dynamics in collaborative projects and portfolio assessment practices. The author of three mystery novels and an award-winning short story, Barr has a Ph.D. in Rhetoric, Theory, and Culture, with a focus on Writing Program Administration in STEM. As an IEEE Senior Member, she currently serves as secretary to the IEEE Professional Communication Society Board of Governors and as Campus Representative for the ASEE North Midwest Section. She is also an active member of the Consortium for Graduate Communication and the National Council of Teachers of English.

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Active learning techniques have been proven effective at engaging students in the course content and leading to a deeper learner, as opposed to traditional lecture-style courses. Additionally, research has shown that one of the best ways to teach professional skills such as communication is within disciplinary courses, which make the material more relevant to students’ career goals. This paper will explore the use of an active learning approach called student-centered learning in a graduate-level Nanotechnology course offered in a department of mechanical engineering. In the course students develop presentations as a means of understanding current trends, emerging research topics, relevant applications, and fundamental science and technology involved in nanotechnology. The students use materials developed by the instructor as a starting point to finding a related journal paper, which they then present to the class a lesson.

This paper will describe how peer (student) presentation was implemented as an active-learning process, placing students at the helm of the learning process, and most importantly, helping students to develop learning skills and an awareness of their capability for self- and group-learning. Peer presentations can guide students into developing and articulating their own, novel interpretation of the learning materials. Students are asked to expand their knowledge via journal papers and multimedia (e.g. use of PowerPoint, YouTube videos) and present their findings. The aim includes observations of students’ behavior changes as students shift away from a sole source of knowledge (i.e., a teacher-to-students pedagogy). The method of student-peer presentation also implements active listening and attention span durations by breaking class sessions into two parts: ~25-30 minutes of presentation-based teaching and two peer presentations of 10 minutes each. A portion of the class is also allocated to questions and answers based on a reflection activity and the notes from both the student presenters and the audience.

This paper will be of interest to those looking to incorporate active learning techniques into higher-level engineering courses while teaching communication skills.

Choi, C. K., & Barr, N. B. (2020, June), Peer Presentations as a Student-centered Learning Approach in the Nanotechnology Class Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35046

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