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Transforming a Large-lecture FYE Course Structure into Virtual Collaborative Learning

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

First-year Programs: Virtual Instruction in the First Year 1

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count

21

Permanent URL

https://216.185.13.174/37929

Download Count

74

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Paper Authors

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Haritha Malladi University of Delaware

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Haritha Malladi is an Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Director of First-Year Engineering at University of Delaware, Newark, DE. She is passionate about undergraduate education and teaches the first-year experience course incoming class students in the College of Engineering at UD. She obtained her Bachelor of Technology degree in Civil Engineering from National Institute of Technology, Warangal, India. She earned her Master of Science and doctoral degrees in Civil Engineering from North Carolina State University in the USA. Her disciplinary research interests lie in the area of sustainability in asphalt pavements using material considerations, green technologies, and efficient pavement preservation techniques. Her doctoral work focused on improving the performance of recycled asphalt pavements using warm mix asphalt additives. As a postdoctoral scholar at North Carolina State University, she worked on several NCDOT sponsored research projects including developing specifications for crack sealant application and performing field measurements of asphalt emulsion application in tack coats and chip seals. Her undergraduate teaching experience includes foundational engineering mechanics courses like statics and strength of materials as well as courses related to sustainability and infrastructure. Alongside teaching, she is passionate about science communication and public involvement in science. She has been invited to conduct several workshops on communicating technical concepts to different target audiences. She is interested in incorporating data-driven research, citizen science, and experiential learning into teaching and outreach.

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Amy Trauth University of Delaware Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-5146-592X

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Amy Trauth, Ph.D., is the Affiliate Faculty in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Delaware and Science Instructional Specialist at New Castle County Vo-Tech School District in Wilmington, DE. In her role, Amy works collaboratively with secondary science teachers to develop and implement standards-based curricula and assessments. She also provides mentoring, coaching, and co-teaching support to secondary science teachers across the entire trajectory of the profession. Her research focuses on teacher education, classroom assessment, and P-16 environmental and engineering education.

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Joshua A. Enszer University of Delaware

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Dr. Joshua Enszer is an associate professor in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Delaware. He has taught core and elective courses across the curriculum, from introduction to engineering science and material and energy balances to process control, capstone design, and mathematical modeling of chemical and environmental systems. His research interests include technology and learning in various incarnations: electronic portfolios as a means for assessment and professional development, implementation of computational tools across the chemical engineering curriculum, and game-based learning.

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Marcia Gail Headley University of Delaware Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-3017-2834

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Dr. Headley is a Research Associate III at the Center for Research in Education and Social Policy (CRESP) at the University of Delaware. She specializes in the development of mixed methods research designs and strategies for integrating quantitative and qualitative research approaches. She is the recipient of the 2017 American Education Research Association (AERA) Mixed Methods SIG Outstanding Dissertation Award. Her methodological work has been published in the prestigious Journal of Mixed Method Research. Dr. Headley is devoted to designing effective research studies with the potential to generate well-justified answers to complex questions about how students learn given variations in their health, homes, classrooms, and schools.

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Jenni Buckley University of Delaware

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Dr. Buckley is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at University of Delaware. She received her Bachelor’s of Engineering (2001) in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Delaware, and her MS (2004) and PhD (2006) in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, where she worked on computational and experimental methods in spinal biomechanics. Since 2006, her research efforts have focused on the development and mechanical evaluation of medical and rehabilitation devices, particularly orthopaedic, neurosurgical, and pediatric devices. She teaches courses in design, biomechanics, and mechanics at University of Delaware and is heavily involved in K12 engineering education efforts at the local, state, and national levels.

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Abstract

This Complete Evidence-based Practice paper describes the redesign of a large enrollment lecture-style First Year Experience (FYE) engineering course and its implementation in an online format. FYE engineering courses at large, research-focused universities present a unique challenge from a curricular and administrative perspective. Prior research indicates large lecture-style courses should be interdisciplinary and interactive, while presenting enough technical content within each engineering discipline to aid or reinforce students’ choices of majors. These course characteristics are most effectively supported by student-centered pedagogical approaches, such as Problem Based Learning (PBL). While ideal from a pedagogical perspective, small class sizes with multiple, experienced faculty instructors are sometimes not attainable given the financial and human resource limitations. Prior work by our group introduced a curricular and logistical model of a large-enrollment FYE course that provided students with an intensive collaborative engineering design experience in a face-to-face (FTF) instructional setting. In this paper, we present strategies for offering large-enrollment FYE courses in an entirely online setting, which was necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic; and we examine the effectiveness of this approach by comparing student outcomes between FTF and online course formats.

For this study, we compared FTF and online formats of a large enrollment FYE engineering course at a public university in the US. The FYE course is required for all first-semester engineering students across all disciplines and taught in two sections of approximately 325-350 students over a 14-week term. The instructional team includes two faculty instructors and a team of near-peer teaching assistants (1:25 TA:student ratio). Course learning objectives were identical for F2F and online formats and included (1) Applying the Engineering Design Process to solve open-ended product and process-based design challenges; (2) Utilizing skills common across all engineering disciplines, like mathematical modeling and design schematics; and (3) Engaging in constructive collaboration with peers. These learning objectives were reinforced through two, team-based PBL design projects that were scaffolded by weekly team assignments as well as individual formative assessments based on course lecture material. Students were randomly assigned to teams of 5-6 individuals, and they routinely completed peer evaluations to individuate team grades.

The transformation of this large-enrollment FYE course from F2F to online format necessitated changes to student assignments and course logistics. Hour-long FTF lectures were parsed into shorter video recordings that were released at the start of each week. Unique to the online course, university-wide FYE topics, like sexual consent and issues of privilege and structural racism, were presented in a “podcast” format. Asynchronous lecture content was supplemented by parallel, TA-led synchronous workshop sessions that were unique to the online course and focused on student team planning for the weekly assignments. Weekly team assignments and individual formative assessments were largely consistent between FTF and online course versions; however, the two team-based PBL projects were altered for the online format. In FTF format, the first project involved hands-on design of a mechanical system with provided, low-cost construction materials (e.g., foam core, wooden dowels). For the online version of the course, students were mailed a set of low-cost, laser cut wooden mechanical components. Working in their teams, students used 2D and 3D modeling software to create their own unique machine designs, and these designs were manufactured in university prototyping facilities and mailed to the students for final testing. Similar for FTF and online course versions, the second course project involved conservation of energy and mass principles and substantive background research. In the FTF format, the topic for the second project was a forensic analysis of a chemical safety incident, and in the online version it was a life cycle analysis of two consumer choices.

In this paper, we will compare student-centered outcomes for online versus FTF formats for the same large-enrollment FTE course. The online course occurred in Fall 2020 during the COVID pandemic, and FTF data were taken from the prior course year (Fall 2019). We will compare student performance on summative assignments that were used both semesters (~60% all assignments) and used identical grading rubrics. Additionally, we will compare students’ self-perceived growth related to the course learning objectives from pre/post course surveys administered in both FTF and online course versions. The results of this study will guide our institution and others in determining whether FYE courses should still be offered in large-enrollment sections in the event of mandatory online instruction, as was the case during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Malladi, H., & Trauth, A., & Enszer, J. A., & Headley, M. G., & Buckley, J. (2021, July), Transforming a Large-lecture FYE Course Structure into Virtual Collaborative Learning Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://216.185.13.174/37929

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