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Transforming Introductory Engineering Courses to Match GenZ Learning Styles

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Potpourri - A Mix of All Topics

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Sean Michael Quallen University of Idaho

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Dr. Sean M. Quallen teaches dynamics, fluid mechanics, and heat transfer. His interests include improving the representation of young women in engineering fields and the integration of gaming and entertainment into modern pedagogy.

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John Crepeau P.E. University of Idaho Orcid 16x16

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Professor John Crepeau received his BS degree in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, and his MS and PhD degrees from the University of Utah. After serving as an NSF-NATO Postdoctoral Research Fellow, he began teaching at the University of Idaho. He served as chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Idaho from 2009-2015, and is currently the Associate Dean in the College of Engineering.

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Barry Willis University of Idaho

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Barry Willis is Associate Dean and Professor Emeritus at the University of Idaho (UI). His areas of specialty include online learning, leadership and organizational behavior, and designing instruction for GenZ learners. Dr. Willis previously served the UI as Associate Provost and Associate Vice President for Educational Outreach. Professor Willis teaches in the Engineering Management graduate program.

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Steven W. Beyerlein University of Idaho

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Dr. Beyerlein has taught at the University of Idaho for the last 34 years. He is a former department chair and collaborates the college of engineering introduction to engineering course, the inter-disciplinary capstone design course, and the FE review course. Dr. Beyerlein has been active in research projects involving engine testing, engine heat release modeling, design of curricula for active learning, design pedagogy, and assessment of professional skills.

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JJ Petersen University of Idaho

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Recent pedagogical studies indicate that short, focused content presentations followed by interaction and assessment are more effective in teaching GenZ (ages 17-22) students. By redesigning two high enrollment lower division courses at the University of Idaho, Introduction to Computer Science and Engineering Statics, and targeting GenZ learning styles, we hoped to improve both our retake and retention rates.

Since GenZ students are familiar with video technology as part their education, we had instructors record short video segments which corresponded to in-class lectures. In conjunction with the Engineering Outreach program, an office was repurposed into a small faculty recording studio where the videos could be recorded at times which could easily fit within the schedule of a faculty member. We offered short training sessions for the instructors to learn how to use the equipment. The goal was to develop a library of review modules so that if a student did not understand a particular topic which was covered in class, the student could review the video as many times as necessary to master the concept. In addition to the review modules, example problems and their solutions were also recorded to allow students to develop their problem-solving skills.

During the spring 2020 semester in Engineering Statics, 51.4% of the students viewed at least one video with an average of 2.6 views per student overall. The switch to the online classes due to the pandemic shutdown had a dramatic effect, where 87% of the overall video views occurred prior to the switch and only 13% occurred after the switch. For the Introduction to Computer Science course, all students viewed at least one video with an average of 13.3 views per student. The number of videos viewed per student after the switch to online showed a slight increase relative to the fall 2019. In both classes, students reported only watching videos on topics that they found most difficult. Videos on more fundamental or more difficult topics had higher viewership. Results suggest that students were using the videos as supplemental materials and that the videos were successful in helping students master the course material.

Quallen, S. M., & Crepeau, J., & Willis, B., & Beyerlein, S. W., & Petersen, J. (2021, July), Transforming Introductory Engineering Courses to Match GenZ Learning Styles Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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