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Teaching an Engineering Lab Through Hybrid Instruction

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2021 ASEE Pacific Southwest Conference - "Pushing Past Pandemic Pedagogy: Learning from Disruption"



Publication Date

April 23, 2021

Start Date

April 23, 2021

End Date

April 25, 2021

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Shamim Mirza California State University at Long Beach

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Dr. Shamim Mirza has been teaching at the department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, CSULB, since Fall 2013. He is teaching several courses including materials labs. His research interest is in the field of nanotechnology, especially, polymers and nanomaterials (e.g., carbon nanotubes, graphene, organic/inorganic nanoparticles, bio-sensors). Dr. Mirza was the PI of several government SBIR/STTR projects including NASA, DoD, and NIH.

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Currently, all over the world most of the courses are taught in traditional face-to-face method. In the developed countries, more than 50% undergraduate and 75% of graduate students work either full-time or part-time to cover their expenses and/or gain valuable work experience. Thus, students often face challenges to fit their work and class schedule in the traditional method. To accommodate these students, online teaching mode is becoming an preferred alternative. COVID-19 pandemic also enhanced the demand on this mode. Electronic-learning (E-learning) is one of the best solutions that can help these students to get proper education. E-learning can be achieved in three modes: (1) virtual face-to-face, i.e., synchronous, (2) lectures are recorded and uploaded for the students, i.e., asynchronous, and (3) hybrid which combines both face-to-face and synchronous/asynchronous learning. However, teaching an engineering laboratory class is not suitable in the first two modes as laboratory classes are designed to give hands-on experience to the students. Hybrid method which includes hands on experimental component is more appropriate for the lab classes. However, due to the pandemic, only few students could participate during the face-to-face session while others observed the experiment in the virtual classroom. Therefore, this added difficulty for majority of the students in understanding the methods and means of the experiments. To improve students better understanding, three components were added in the course design which were not included in the class before pandemic – (1) provided short video for each lab so that they can watch it before performing the experiment, (2) live video during performing experiments so that students can join synchronous lab session and ask questions/clarification, and (3) added quizzes on each experiments to make sure that the students can understand why and how each steps of a particular experiment were conducted. In this study, students’ success is compared among three consecutive semesters, i.e., before pandemic (Fall 2019), at the beginning of the pandemic (Spring 2020), and during pandemic (Fall 2020). The study shows an excellent improvement in students GPA in Fall 2020 compared to the previous semesters. This paper will present the challenges to teach a engineering lab.

Mirza, S. (2021, April), Teaching an Engineering Lab Through Hybrid Instruction Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Pacific Southwest Conference - "Pushing Past Pandemic Pedagogy: Learning from Disruption", Virtual.

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