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Teaching First-year Engineering in an Online Learning Environment

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2021 First-Year Engineering Experience



Publication Date

August 9, 2021

Start Date

August 9, 2021

End Date

August 21, 2021

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Shelley A. Lorimer P. Eng. Grant MacEwan University

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Shelley Lorimer is a Professor in Engineering (BSEN) Transfer Program at Grant MacEwan University. She is an instructor in the introductory engineering courses as well. The BSEN program at MacEwan has grown from forty students since in started more than twenty years ago, to the current 216 students. The majority of the students in the program transfer to second year engineering at the University of Alberta.

Shelley is a graduate of the University of Alberta in engineering and is a registered professional engineer with APEGA (Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists of Alberta). Prior to her career at MacEwan, Shelley worked in industry as a research engineer and a consulting engineer for several years.

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Jeffrey A Davis P.Eng. Grant MacEwan University

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Dr. Davis' research focuses on pedagogical topics such as student engagement, active learning, and cognitive development. Projects he is currently working on include “Development of a risk assessment model for the retention of students”, “Development of Student Assessment Software”, and “Improving Student Engagement through Active Learning”.

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Teaching models in face-to-face classes have evolved over time with goals to maximize student learning through the use of learning models such as problem based, experiential, cooperative, active and discovery learning to name a few. Mastery of these teaching models requires an instructor to be knowledgeable and proficient with different media (e.g. whiteboard, projector, demonstration equipment, feedback tools, communication tools, learning management systems) while teaching and assessing students. When switching to different types of delivery methods (face-to-face, online, and hybrid) it is important to ensure that alternative teaching and learning methods and media are possible to accommodate and enhance learning. The recent Pandemic has caused a rapid transition to online teaching without time to adjust teaching and learning methodologies. This has caused changes in both the teaching environment and the learning community which are factors in both social and constructivism learning theories. In terms of the environment, students are now isolated physically and move around in a virtual environment; their experience and motivation varied by technology and societal factor. Similarly, changes in the learning community were found as students are no longer physically in groups but exist in virtual communities which affect student motivation and support. The research in this paper focuses on the effects of the shift to an online teaching modality. It first looks at the influencing factors in constructivism learning theory (such as the environment and community) and develops an inventory of concepts and techniques used to teach first year engineering both within a face-to-face and online learning environment. The paper then reflects on challenges found in recent online teaching experiences within an online environment in different first-year engineering courses, and finally discusses opportunities for improvements.

Lorimer, S. A., & Davis, J. A. (2021, August), Teaching First-year Engineering in an Online Learning Environment Paper presented at 2021 First-Year Engineering Experience, Virtual . 10.18260/1-2--38405

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