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Student Perceptions of Instructional Change in Engineering Courses: A Pilot Study

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Conference

2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Trends in Engineering Education 1

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count

13

Page Numbers

24.1120.1 - 24.1120.13

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/23053

Download Count

42

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Paper Authors

biography

Maura J. Borrego Virginia Tech

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Maura Borrego is Associate Dean and Director of Interdisciplinary Programs in the Graduate School and Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. She recently served as a Program Director in the Division of Undergraduate Education at the National Science Foundation. Dr. Borrego’s engineering education research awards include PECASE, CAREER, and two outstanding publication awards from the American Educational Research Association for her journal articles. Her research interests include engineering faculty development, specifically how faculty members decide to apply the results of educational research, and interdisciplinary graduate education in STEM. She is an Associate Editor for Journal of Engineering Education and serves on the board of the American Society for Engineering Education as chair of Professional Interest Council IV. Dr. Borrego has developed and taught graduate level courses in engineering education research methods and assessment. All of Dr. Borrego’s degrees are in Materials Science and Engineering. Her M.S. and Ph.D. are from Stanford University, and her B.S. is from University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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Michael J. Prince Bucknell University

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Christopher Evan Nellis Virginia Tech

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Christopher Nellis is an undergraduate researcher with the Department of Engineering Education. He is currently a junior undergraduate student working towards a BS in Materials Science and Engineering. His research is focused in understanding engineering students' reactions to college coursework based on their expectations coming into college.

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Prateek Shekhar Virginia Tech Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-6552-2887

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PhD Student
Department of Engineering Education

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Cindy Waters North Carolina A&T State University

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Cindy K. Waters is an Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering at NCA&T State University. Her research is in the development and characterization of novel syntactic foams and various porous metals via powder metallurgy and foam casting. She is also significantly involved in engineering education research in the areas of assessment studies of classroom material science pedagogical implementations; case studies in various engineering disciplines and; engineering faculty barriers to adopt evidence-based (or nontraditional) teaching methods . She serves as the College of Engineering liaison to ASEE and advises the Society of Women Engineers student chapter and leads the students in developing and implementing yearly outreach events for the K-8 female community. She is author of many peer-reviewed conference proceeding for the ASEE Annual Meetings and the FIE meetings.

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Cynthia J. Finelli University of Michigan Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-9148-1492

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Dr. Cynthia Finelli is Director of the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching Engineering and research associate professor in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan. She actively pursues research in engineering education and assists other faculty at U-M in their scholarly endeavors. Her current research interests include studying faculty motivation to change classroom practices, evaluating methods to improve teaching, and exploring ethical decision-making in undergraduate engineering students. Dr. Finelli leads a national initiative to create a taxonomy/keyword outline for the field of engineering education research, she is past Chair of the Educational Research and Methods Division of the American Society of Engineering Education, and she is an ASEE Fellow.

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Abstract

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

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2014 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015