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Preferred Learning Activities

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

ASEE Multimedia Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.931.1 - 7.931.7



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Paper Authors

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Russ Pimmel

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Session 2793

Preferred Learning Activities Russell Pimmel Electrical and Computer Engineering University of Alabama


In this study, we utilized end-of-the-semester survey data in which students ranked nine learning activities “in order of their importance in helping a student do well in this course”. The activities were: attending lectures, reading the text, reading the objectives, doing homework, doing homework in study groups, attending evening reviews, completing lab assignments, doing in- class exercises, doing in-class exercises in groups. In a second part of the survey, students also indicated the fraction of the lectures they attended, the fraction of the homework they completed, the fraction of the homework they completed in groups, and the fraction of the reading they completed, and how often they read the objectives. These data showed that the students valued and used the lectures and homework and that they devalued and did not use the text and objectives. The study suggested that some students did not respond to the modern instructional methodology tools (e.g., learning objectives, group homework, and active/cooperative learning exercises). It also suggested that these courses contained at least two subpopulations – those that rely on lectures and homework (listening and doing) and those that rely on the text and objectives (reading and thinking).


The literature contains many articles describing different learning styles usually characterized by the Learning Type Measure or the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. (See, for example, Bernhold et al 1 or Sharp et al 2.) In discussing learning types, authors suggest that instructors use an assortment of instructional methodologies or learning activities in order to reach all students 1-4. Felder and his colleagues have pointed out that using learning objectives and active/cooperative learning are extremely important in reaching the widest mix of students 3, 4. We have used a wide assortment of learning activities in two digital systems courses and we decided to try to determine what learning activities the students preferred and used and what relationships existed between their preferences and utilizations. We also explored their feeling about the team-based activities in these courses. Finally we wondered if we could distinguish population subgroups, perhaps related to learning types, based on these preferences and utilizations.

Data Collection

This study utilized data collected in two required courses in digital systems, one at the sophomore-level and one at the senior-level. These courses served electrical engineering, computer engineering, and computer science majors. All three majors required the sophomore course; the two computer programs required the senior course while the electrical engineering program used it as a senior elective. In both courses, the instructor provided daily learning

Proceeding of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Pimmel, R. (2002, June), Preferred Learning Activities Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10949

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