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Using Technology To Promote Active Learning In Biomedical Engineering

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Using Technology to Enhance Teaching and Learning

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1567.1 - 12.1567.14



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Paper Authors


Pilar Pazos Northwestern University

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Pilar Pazos is a Research Associate at the Searle Center for Teaching Excellence at Northwestern University. She is also a researcher at VaNTH Center for Bioengineering Educational Technologies. Her main areas of interest are engineering education, group decision making and applied statistics.

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Robert Linsenmeier Biomedical Engineering Department and Department of Neurobiology and

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Robert A. Linsenmeier has a joint appointment in Biomedical Engineering in the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, and in Neurobiology and Physiology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. His primary teaching is in human and animal physiology. He is the Associate Director of the VaNTH Engineering Research Center in Bioengineering Educational Technologies, former chair of the Biomedical Engineering Department at Northwestern, and a fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering and the Biomedical Engineering Society. His research interests are in the role of retinal oxygen transport and metabolism in both normal physiological conditions and disease, and in bioengineering and physiology education.

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Suzanne Olds Northwestern University

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SUZANNE A. OLDS is Assistant Chair of the Biomedical Engineering Department at Northwestern University and is engaged in the VaNTH Center for Bioengineering Educational Technologies. She is interested in the use of PRS and methods of teaching ethics to engineering students.

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

Using technology to enhance active learning in Biomedical Engineering. Abstract

This paper evaluates previous uses of Personal Response Systems (PRS) and the pedagogical rationale associated to the different uses. We illustrate the use of PRS systems in two different courses: Systems Physiology and Thermodynamics. We describe the motivation to use PRS as well as the pedagogical methods associated with PRS use in the courses. The main goal of the study is to evaluate the relationships between students’ use of PRS and learning outcomes. We used two measures to evaluate students’ use of the PRS system. A Response index was calculated as the percentage of questions answered. A second index, Correct Response index was calculated by dividing the number of correct answers by the number of questions attempted. Learning outcomes were assessed using exam grades and final course grade. Students’ perceptions relative to PRS use in the course were measured using a questionnaire. We found a positive and significant relationship between PRS Response index and course performance for both courses. We conclude by comparing and evaluating the differences found in the results from both courses.

1. Introduction

National calls for reform in science education 1 recommend a shift in instructional focus to incorporate the student as an active member of the educational process. The National Academy of Engineering is also promoting new initiatives to support innovative work in engineering education 2 Ebert-Mar, Brewer & Allred 3 indicate that learning is a constructive process that requires active participation by not only the teacher but also the student. Active involvement of students in large engineering classes can become a challenge. A possible approach includes “hands-on” experiences in the lab and small interactive classrooms 3. However, small classrooms are not always possible. As a result, strategies that promote active, inquiry-based and collaborative learning in large classes are likely to have a large impact in the future of science and engineering education.

Personal response systems (PRS) are a type of Classroom Communication System (CCS) consisting of a combination of hardware and software designed to support communication and interactivity in classes. CCS, also known as electronic voting systems (EVS), have been primarily used in science courses within post-secondary education. Such systems provide immediate feedback to students and inform instructors of students’ misunderstandings. CCSs typically incorporate four features: presentation of questions using presentation software (such as MS PowerPoint), remote individual transmitters, receivers to capture individual responses, and software to compile and present results. Using the CCS, any student in the classroom is able to respond to multiple choice questions asked by the instructor.

The methods of CCS use in large university classes vary with the pedagogical rationale and educational objectives. Kennedy and Cutts 4 explored different approaches in the use of CCSs. One approach is to incorporate the technology within the standard lecture. Using this method, lecture materials are supplemented with questions posed to students at certain points during the lecture followed by feedback and some discussion on the responses. A second approach is the

Pazos, P., & Linsenmeier, R., & Olds, S. (2007, June), Using Technology To Promote Active Learning In Biomedical Engineering Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2025

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