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Student Responses to Active-learning Strategies: A Comparison Between Project-based and Traditional Engineering Programs

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

ENT Division Technical Session: First-year Experiences

Tagged Divisions

First-Year Programs and Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

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Paper Authors


Elizabeth Pluskwik Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Elizabeth leads the Engineering Management and Statistics competencies at Iron Range Engineering, an ABET-accredited project-based engineering education program located in northern Minnesota. She enjoys helping student engineers develop entrepreneurial mindsets through active and collaborative learning in the classroom, on project design teams, and while out on co-op placement. Her prior education and industry experience are in business and accounting, and her Ph.D. in Organization and Management is from Capella University, Minneapolis. She holds Six Sigma and Lean certifications.

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Yuezhou Wang Minnesota State University, Mankato Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Yuezhou Wang is a Mechanical Engineering faculty in Minnesota State University, Mankato. After receiving his Ph.D. from University of Minnesota in 2017, he works for Iron Range Engineering, a project-based learning program. His teaching interests are in areas of materials science, structural analysis, finite element modeling and dynamic systems. His technical research focuses on multiscale modeling on mechanical behavior of nano and granular materials.

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Prior research has shown that active learning strategies in engineering education improve student learning, motivation, and retention in STEM disciplines. Yet, instructors are often hesitant to use active learning and other non-lecture strategies due to challenges from students who are resistant to engaging in these methods. Prior research has suggested strategies that can be used to mitigate student resistance to active learning, yet many faculty members have not yet implemented active learning into their engineering education courses. The global demand for entrepreneurially-minded engineers and the rapid growth of engineering programs embracing this mindset increases the need for actionable resources and strategies for faculty to implement in their courses. The program reported here uses active learning across the curriculum, encounters little student resistance, and graduates industry-ready engineers. We report the findingsfrom the Student Resistance to Instructional Practices (StRIP) study focused on students in a specific project-based learning engineering education program, and compare results to non-PBL previous studies. The results indicated that PBL engineering students enjoyed the active learning strategies used by their instructors, and showed less resistance to them. The PBL learners reported less frequent use of non-lecture activities in courses than previous studies. Possible reasons for this result are presented.

Pluskwik, E., & Wang, Y. (2020, June), Student Responses to Active-learning Strategies: A Comparison Between Project-based and Traditional Engineering Programs Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35238

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