June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
24.1220.1 - 24.1220.16
The Goldilocks Continuum: Making the case for an optimal balance of instructional strategy in mechanical engineering collaborative learning There is an explicit demand on educators to employ online collaborative tools inmechanical engineering education. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology(ABET) mandates collaborative competency as a learning outcome for mechanical engineeringeducation. That mandate coupled with the popularity of online education urges a rethinking ofhow we might best leverage online collaborative tools in mechanical engineering programs. David Johnson and Roger Johnson (2008) identify two relevant gaps in leveraging onlinecollaborative tools in education. First, they argue that collaborative tools for education are oftenchosen with the purpose of supporting prevailing instructional practices rather than transforminginstructional strategies (p. 418). Second, they maintain that current research on collaborativetechnology has focused on learner achievement while largely ignoring theory (p. 417). This study describes the experiences of mechanical engineering students assigned to aseries of collaborative projects in two semesters of an engineering materials course. Studentsutilized two online collaborative tools – one in the fall semester of 2011 (FS11) and one in thefall semester of 2012 (FS12). Given different instructional strategies for each semester, studentsworked in small groups to solve open-ended problems. The FS11 course employed Peanut Butter (PB) Wiki as the online collaborative tool.Participation was compulsory. PB Wiki was assigned to each student group with prescriptivestudent interactions. The FS12 course offered Google Drive Environment for Collaboration(GDEC) as an online collaborative tool. Participation was optional. GDEC was offered withminimal guidance on student interactions. PB Wiki and GDEC are both online cloud-based repositories that afford synchronous andasynchronous contributions while permitting student collaboration in the form of – • Creating, importing or linking text, spreadsheet, and image artifacts • Editing text, spreadsheet, and image artifacts • Commenting on the margin of contributed artifacts We interviewed 19 of these participants on their experiences in the FS11 and FS12courses to ascertain learner expectations for online collaborative tools and instructionalstrategies. Emergent results indicate that of the 80 students formed into 16 groups for the FS11course most found the PB Wiki tool and prescriptive interactions to be burdensome; while mostof the 64 students formed into 13 groups for the FS12 course tended to opt out of the GDEC toolin favor of face-to-face collaboration. Yet those student groups from the FS12 course formedwhat might be described as natural control groups when compared to the 4 student groups thatchose to use the GDEC tool. Student experiences will be described. This paper will examine the two collaborative environments and present a qualitativeexploration of the students’ successes and shortcomings in each environment. The benefit of thiscase study is to advocate an optimal balance of instructional strategy for online collaborativetools employed in mechanical engineering education from the student perspective.ReferencesJohnson, D.W., & Johnson, R. (2008). Cooperation and the Use of Technology. In J.M. Spector et al. (Ed.), Handbook of Research on Educational Communications and Technology, Third Edition (pp. 410-423). New York, NY: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Larsen, C. E., & Marra, R. M., & Tang, N., & Jonassen, D. H., & Winholtz, R. A. (2014, June), The Goldilocks Continuum: Making the Case for an Optimal Balance of Instructional Strategy in Mechanical Engineering Collaborative Learning Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. https://peer.asee.org/23153
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