June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
Educational Research and Methods
24.1120.1 - 24.1120.13
Student Perceptions of Instructional Change in Engineering Courses: A Pilot Study Though engineering and physics professors have been provided strong evidence that newResearch-Based Instructional Strategies(RBIS), such as active learning, are effective in increasing studentlearning, there have been difficulties getting these professors to implement RBIS in their own classroom.While concerns about time management and lack of support from administration commonly prevent theadoption of RBIS, another important component is how the students will react to a new teachingmethod. Further, engineering and physics faculty members cite negative student reactions as a barrierto their increased use of RBIS(Froyd 2013). Research shows that students can perceive a new teachingmethod, like group discussions, as unhelpful while assessment evidence shows learning gains. Theresults are framed using Expectation Violation theory, which predicts that if a class is not what a studentexpects it to be (i.e., typically a lecture), the student will resist the instructional strategy and limit itseffectiveness. A proper understanding of what an incoming engineering student anticipates from acollege classroom will help a professor transition to using a RBIS go more smoothly. In this pilot study,focus groups were conducted with undergraduate engineering students to discuss their experiences andexpectations for transitioning to college engineering classes. These focus groups were asked to describethe ideal conditions for them to learn best in the classroom. Questions ranged from how the professorinteracts with the student to the study habits that they picked up. In addition, the students were askedabout experiences in which a professor used a RBIS in class. Students described how these experiencesdiffered from what they expected and how they indicated this to the instructors. A strong theme in thestudents’ responses was the desire for clear organization and easy ways to take or get high qualitynotes. For students, being able to document what happens in the class in their own style helpscomprehension. An active learning activity could seem disruptive to them. The students’ responses alsoindicated that television and movies gave them an idea of what to expect from engineering classes incollege. These media generally depict college classes as large lecture-based classes with an un-engaginginstructor. From these results, professors using an RBIS can better anticipate their student’s reaction toteaching method and prevent any loss in learning from student resistance to it.
Borrego, M. J., & Prince, M. J., & Nellis, C. E., & Shekhar, P., & Waters, C., & Finelli, C. J. (2014, June), Student Perceptions of Instructional Change in Engineering Courses: A Pilot Study Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. https://peer.asee.org/23053
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