July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
The use of design-thinking (or human-centered design) has become an important part of engineering education today, with students learning to consider the value of empathizing with end users and co-creating solutions. However, instructors often neglect to apply these same empathic methods in considering the learning needs of their students. For example, in team-based design work students rarely receive opportunities to make autonomous discoveries. Additionally, engineering students are taught to communicate design decisions through technical tools and software, but often struggle to describe complex information effectively to a lay public. To some extent, these challenges have become amplified through the adoption of online-only modes of instruction due to the Covid-19 pandemic. With online instruction, even more than for face-to-face instruction, engineering educators need to involve students at cognitive and emotional levels in authentic, meaningful, and immersive learning experiences. This study seeks to analyze the use of mini-projects (complex design projects divided into smaller segments) combined with comprehensive ePortfolios (electronic portfolios) in a sophomore-level Design for Manufacturability course. By emphasizing self-directed and scaffolded learning experiences, the pairing of these mini-projects with student-produced electronic portfolios can provide students with opportunities to develop competencies such as self-directed learning, autonomous exploration, creative inspiration, effective planning, and lay communication of complex ideas. For the purposes of this investigation, mini-projects may be independent from one another or connected as a series. Lessons from previous mini-projects are integrated in subsequent projects, and each mini-project is offered with ill-defined analytical questions and open-ended design questions that demand independent research. Scaffolded mini-projects offer an ideal mechanism for students to demonstrate their competencies, especially when offered in tandem with teaching-learning-assessments via ePortfolios, which have been shown to be effective in documenting learning competencies, enabling meta-analysis and personal reflection, and improving skills in employing social media to communicate ideas. In effect, mini-projects combined with ePortfolios may help to facilitate deeper understanding of course content, make the curriculum more relevant for students, and build connections between classroom and professional learning competencies. This study will offer a comparative analysis evaluating the efficacy of using mini-projects and ePortfolios in a face-to-face learning environment (Fall 2019) and in an online-only learning environment (Fall 2020). Participants in the face-to-face Fall 2019 (n = 104) course completed a questionnaire that evaluated specific engagement constructs. The completed questionnaires were evaluated using descriptive statistics and factor analysis. Data from the Fall 2020 (n =100) course will be evaluated using the same assessment methodology. It is hoped that the findings from this work may contribute to the development of teaching strategies that can enhance and facilitate learning during online-only and face-to-face instruction.
Tucker, T., & Wolf, A. R., & Dancholvichit, N., & Liebenberg, L. (2021, July), Transforming an Engineering Design Course into an Engaging Learning Experience Using a Series of Self-Directed Mini-Projects and ePortfolios: Face-to-Face Versus Online-only Instruction Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37930
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