June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
New Engineering Educators
13.1290.1 - 13.1290.18
Tipping the Scales: Finding the Most Effective Balance between Lecture and Active Learning across Academic Levels in Engineering I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand. -Confucius Abstract As seen in the quote above, the concept of active learning can be traced back to the time of Confucius (551-479 BC). Of late, much work and research has been done on the effectiveness and engagement value of experiential education1,2,5,6. Research indicates that in the proper measure and implementation, lessons can be successfully embedded into well-planned activities to illustrate and/or supplement the course lecture content to effectively educate students as young engineers2 and simultaneously challenge and inspire them5. However, with the current trend of incorporating more active learning into our curricula, we are mindful that a “one size fits all” approach may not be the best option to achieve the most success for all classes and levels in engineering. This research sets out to identify the framework for a proportional profile of learning modes across academic levels in engineering, starting with the freshman year and tracing on through to the senior year. Strong correlations between the infusion of carefully selected and implemented active learning modes and metrics of amount learned and overall teaching effectiveness have already been established. Thus, we extended the research to investigate the perceived value and effectiveness of active learning (AL) versus traditional lecture (TL), primarily for core engineering courses. This follow-on work sought to assign percentage approximations to the ideal balance of AL vs. TL at various engineering class levels.
Our premise was that, as students mature academically, their requirements concerning class design will also change and they will change in such a way as to be different from each other across progressive levels. Essentially, we expected linear incremental change. Students across three academic levels were surveyed on several elements of class presentation and the results were insightful in terms of the ratio of active learning to traditional lecture and the reasons for the perceived effectiveness of each. In general, the first-year freshmen engineering students preferred more AL to TL in a 55:45 ratio, third-year middlers expressed a significantly lower inclination toward active learning at 40:60, while surprisingly the fifth- year seniors reported their overall AL:TL proportion at approximately 60:40, reversing back to a ratio higher than the freshmen. Further enquiry was made as to the rationale for these profiles as well as what motivates and engages students in class. The responses are presented and evaluated in light of academic year (level), learning style, and GPA to determine which, if any, of these factors have a bearing on the results.
Introduction Philosophical and Sociological Elements. As noted above, the notion of experiential learning has been in existence since the time of Confucius. Active learning, particularly in engineering, exhibits a decided concentration on group work and collective learning experiences. Marx and Engels also observed that the production of goods and services requires the “creative capabilities of individuals” and that these individuals be “inherently social” (Ritzer, 2000). George Herbert Meade, one of the later classical sociologists also shared this belief on a more micro-sociological level with his view that society as a whole develops the mind and actions of the individual through a series of social processes11.
“We are not in social psychology, building up the behavior of the social group in terms of the behavior of separate individuals composing it; rather, we are starting out with a given social whole of complex group activity, into which we analyze (as elements) the behavior of each of the separate individuals composing it…”8
Jaeger, B., & Bates, M., & Damon, B., & Reppy, A. (2008, June), Tipping The Scales: Finding The Most Effective Balance Between Lecture Versus Active Learning Across Academic Levels In Engineering Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4361
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