July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Cooperative and Experiential Education
The New Engineering Education Transformation (NEET) program is an elective three-year undergraduate interdisciplinary program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The program pivoted from in-person on-campus teaching to remote teaching during Spring 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. NEET has five cross-departmental tracks, or threads, across science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines. It has completed its third year of operation and graduated its founding cohort in Spring 2020 and has grown to become the fifth-largest undergraduate academic cohort in the university. In January 2020, following feedback collected from students and from other stakeholders, the program began a systematic process of reviewing its academic requirements. The overall goal of this revision was two-fold: reduce the academic burden on students and increase their academic flexibility. The revised requirements were published toward the end of the Spring 2020 semester, at about the same time as the universitywide pivot. This was a fortuitous coincidence as it allowed the students and the program to deal more flexibly with the uncertainty caused by the pandemic. This paper describes the key takeaways from that pivot across all five threads, how over summer we used that learning to redesign courses to be offered in Fall 2020, implementation of those redesigned courses in fall, and design and logistics implications for Spring 2021. It covers two distinct academic periods: Spring 2020, with teaching pivoting from on-campus to remote suddenly and with no more than two weeks for preparation; and Fall 2020, with planned remote teaching taking place. As the program is projectbased, and contains hands-on elements, the pivot to remote teaching was particularly challenging, requiring instructors to adapt and innovate. Enrollment in the NEET program did not drop and we heard anecdotally from students that they thought the pivot in Spring 2020 went as well as possible given the circumstances. Data was collected from instructors and from students by using surveys containing open (free text) and closed items (Likert scale). Another source of data were the syllabi of the various courses taught in the program, which changed with the pivot to remote teaching. The authors detail what had taken place during each of the two semesters, describing the various shifts in syllabi and instruction, student feedback, outline successes and setbacks, and make suggestions for higher education programs facing similar challenges. The authors hope that their experience and the insights gained from it will serve their fellow educators in these challenging times.
Mitra, A. B., & Kassis, T., & Lai, Y., & Lavallee, J. A., & Long, G. L., & Nasto, A., & Salek, M. M., & Lavi, R., & Shepardson, R. (2021, July), Pivot to Remote Teaching of an Undergraduate Interdisciplinary Project-Based Program: Spring–Fall 2020 Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37582
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