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The Michigan Lecturer Competition: Using A Multi Tiered Class Competition To Increase Student Collaboration And Comprehension

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Innovations in First Year Programs

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1243.1 - 15.1243.10



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Paper Authors


Jeffrey Ringenberg University of Michigan

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Jeff Ringenberg is a lecturer at the University of Michigan's College of Engineering. His research interests include mobile learning software development, tactile programming, methods for bringing technology into the classroom, and studying the effects of social networking and collaboration on learning. He holds BSE, MSE, and PhD degrees in Computer Engineering from the University of Michigan.

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Marcial Lapp University of Michigan

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Marcial Lapp is a graduate student in the Industrial and Operations Engineering Department at the University of Michigan. His research interests lie in modeling and solving large-scale optimization problems focused on the transportation and logistics industries. He holds a Masters and a Bachelors degree in Computer Science from the University of Michigan.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

The Michigan Lecturer Competition: Using a multi-tiered class competition to increase student collaboration and comprehension


Student life outside the classroom now includes many different types of activities that symbolize a transition of a student’s time online and this is particularly the case with first year students who are leading increasingly digital lives. Social networking websites have rapidly become an important form of interaction and often replace other forms of communication such as email and even face-to-face contact. While there are many critiques of this phenomenon, it nonetheless represents a dramatic shift in the life of a student and offers new opportunities to increase active learning both inside and outside the classroom. This paper makes use of these types of social networking interactions by creating a multi-level class competition that increases student involvement and understanding of the course material.

1.0 Introduction

First year introductory engineering courses at many universities are often large, which can pose a problem when trying to engage students in the learning process. A student may feel lost in the sheer number of individuals taking a course, leading him/her to quickly fall behind in the material. However, large courses do not have to pose such a problem if their size can be used to foster student activity within the lecture. As Bonwell1 suggests, incorporating active-learning will result in improvement in student attitudes and thinking. In particular, large-scale competitive activities can leverage this size to help include collaboration and interaction into a lecture.

Collaboration among first year students is an increasing trend that is easily observable by the increasing and abundant use of social networking tools. Students are intimately connected with each other’s personal lives and are utilizing their natural tendencies to form intricate personal networks. It is these networks that can be used to enhance the classroom experience provided that it is done appropriately. For example, the use of feedback and commenting can be used to help strengthen a shared experience and form a bond around a lecture topic.

This paper introduces an in-class activity, referred to as the Michigan Lecturer Competition, that is targeted at large, introductory engineering courses, but can also be used in small classrooms with similar effectiveness. The goal of this in-class activity is to incorporate a competition along with a collaborative atmosphere into the regular classroom experience. The competition is modeled after the popular American Idol television series and gives student teams the opportunity to create and deliver exam review presentations to the entire class. As each student team moves forward in the competition, an increasing amount of extra points is added to their exam scores providing them with an incentive to do their best. By creating, presenting, viewing, and commenting on these presentations, it is hoped that the students in the course will better understand the material, increase their interest in the topics, and gain a sense of connectedness with the class as a whole.

Ringenberg, J., & Lapp, M. (2010, June), The Michigan Lecturer Competition: Using A Multi Tiered Class Competition To Increase Student Collaboration And Comprehension Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16298

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