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Team-Teaching a Project-Based First-Year Seminar in Pandemic

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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

First-Year Programs: Unique Projects and Pedagogies

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First-Year Programs

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Yanjun Yan Western Carolina University Orcid 16x16

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Yanjun Yan is an Associate Professor in Engineering and Technology at Western Carolina University. Her research interests include engineering education, swarm robotics, statistical signal processing, and swarm intelligence.

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Hugh Jack P. Eng. P.E. Western Carolina University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Jack is the Cass Ballenger Distinguished Professor of Engineering in the School of Engineering and Technology within Western Carolina University. His interests include robotics, automation, and product design.

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James Coffin

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Complete Evidence-based Practice – This paper presents a team-teaching strategy for a project-based first-year seminar during the pandemic. Three faculty members team-taught three sections of a First-Year Seminar course in Fall 2020 using project-based learning with students from five Engineering and Engineering Technology programs in the department, which encompass electrical, computer, mechanical, and manufacturing-oriented programs. This first-year seminar course has been offered in our school for decades, but it was the first time that it had been offered with team-teaching in Fall 2020. In previous semesters this course was often “flavored” towards certain disciplines as it was shaped by the instructor who taught it, although it did have a set of common learning objectives for all sessions and shared teaching materials then. With team-teaching, we expect to see a higher degree of coherence between course topics and sessions, as well as similar, if not better, attainment of student learning outcomes. Besides the benefits to students, the instructors also benefit from team-teaching to share the teaching load and learn best practices from each other such as project design and LMS usage. This team-teaching model can readily continue even after the pandemic is over. Throughout the course, the instructors met weekly or biweekly to share observations of the class and adjust plans for the next few weeks. Content-wise, the instructors were able to share their expertise on different topics in several formats. Besides learning about multiple topics, the students conducted two team-projects with typically three students on a team. The first project was to build a touchless candy dispenser. We invited community children and their families to visit the project room, one family at a time, for a safe “trick or treat” event, which was well-received, and the students were very proud. The second project was to provide a solution or a prototype to address a COVID-19 concern that they had observed or encountered. Every team was able to create a product webpage using the template provided by the instructors, and they made constructive comments to each other on the project webpages. After the courses were concluded, both faculty and students were surveyed anonymously to report their own experiences and perceptions of others. Most self-report and perception data were consistent, but there was some discrepancy, with possible explanations, which need to be examined in the future. The student scores in Fall 2020 were compared with previous semesters to find it similar to pre-pandemic semesters and have way fewer U (unsatisfactory) grades than in Spring 2020 when the whole campus went online midway.

Yan, Y., & Jack, H., & Coffin, J. (2021, July), Team-Teaching a Project-Based First-Year Seminar in Pandemic Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--37828

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