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Students Teaching Students: An approach to improving Capstone design performance while enhancing learning for all

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Capstone Design

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Kimberly B. Demoret P.E. Florida Institute of Technology Orcid 16x16

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Kimberly Demoret was responsible for the Aerospace Engineering capstone design program at the Florida Institute of Technology from 2015-2021. Prior to joining Florida Tech, she worked for eight years at Kennedy Space Center on development of launch systems in support of NASA's space exploration goals. She also spent 20 years in the Air Force as a developmental engineer and manager, earning her PhD in Mechanical Engineering at the Air Force Institute of Technology in 1994. Her current research interests include engineering education, student motivation and retention, and the psychology of student teams. She is a retired Lieutenant Colonel and a licensed professional engineer in the State of Florida.

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This paper describes approaches to improving student performance in capstone design based on the idea of students teaching and learning from each other. Student attitudes about teaching and learning from peers are explored, along with the relative importance of factors highlighted in the Self-Determination Theory (SDT) of intrinsic motivation- autonomy, mastery and relatedness (i.e., feeling a connection to a larger group). The first approach described is the use of capstone design projects with explicit educational objectives to enhance the hands-on experience of younger university students. Successes and lessons learned are reported from a capstone design project whose scope included development of four Arduino rover lab activities for a freshman class. The second approach described involves having all capstone seniors complete an individual assignment to document a specific “tool for student success” that might be useful for a future team. Senior surveys indicated support for this idea and confirmed that future students may benefit from this transition of knowledge across future classes. Both experience and survey results suggest that seniors have an innate appreciation for the importance of improving the undergraduate learning experience, and are well positioned to identity any gaps in the curriculum needed for success in capstone design. These two approaches provide a unique opportunity for engineering students participating in capstone design to take an active role in future learning at their university. The third approach was to introduce an open-ended group project called “Teams Teaching Engineering” to a first-year introductory engineering class to give younger students experience with team design activities and to increase their comfort with the idea of teaching others. It is believed that activities focused on students teaching and learning from each other can promote intrinsic motivation if framed to consider student needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness.

Demoret, K. B. (2021, July), Students Teaching Students: An approach to improving Capstone design performance while enhancing learning for all Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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