June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.3.1 - 12.3.8
“What Works” in Engineering Education? A Meta-analysis of VaNTH/ERC Biomedical Engineering Modules
The Vanderbilt-Northwestern-Texas-Harvard/MIT Engineering Research Center (VaNTH/ERC) for Bioengineering Educational Technologies has undertaken a series of studies to examine the effects of instructional innovation on learning outcomes. In this paper we summarize the nature, scope and results of these assessments. In the spirit of identifying evidence-based practices in education, we present estimates of the overall and conditional effects from 28 studies and sub-studies reported in 19 evaluation studies. The results suggest that VaNTH-sponsored innovations are effective, although some of the effects may be exaggerated or understated due to technical and procedural problems. This paper identifies which effects are trustworthy and which require additional examination before they can be incorporated (or not) into the knowledge-base on “What Works” in biomedical engineering education.
Established in 1999 with a grant from the National Science Foundation, the Vanderbilt-Northwestern-Texas-Harvard/MIT Engineering Research Center (VaNTH/ERC) for Bioengineering Educational Technologies is aimed at improving the short- and long-term learning outcomes of bioengineering education at many levels with a particular emphasis on undergraduates. To achieve this goal, the center has enlisted teams composed of faculty in bioengineering, learning sciences, learning technology and assessment and evaluation to develop innovative instructional strategies and to test their effectiveness relative to traditional instruction in bioengineering (See Harris, Bransford & Brophy1). These innovations are based on the model of learning and instruction described by Bransford, Brown & Cocking2 in a volume issued by the National Academy of Sciences entitled How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School (popularly known as the “HPL model”). Using the HPL model to guide the creation of innovative instructional materials, over 60 modules and course enhancements have been developed within VaNTH covering a variety of bioengineering areas. This paper examines the quality of the evidence underlying VaNTH-sponsored studies and summarizes the quantitative effects of these innovations that have been derived from experimental and quasi-experimental evaluation efforts to date.
A primary motivator behind this paper is to contribute to a relatively new global interest in identifying evidence-based practices (see Cottingham, Maynard & Stagner3, Slavin4). In doing so, we follow an evolving set of guidelines and practices that are being developed by the major organization responsible for conducting similar types of reviews. We have drawn from practices espoused by the Cochrane Collaboration (see http://www.cochrane.org) in medicine, the Campbell Collaboration in social and educational areas (see http://www.campbellcollaboration.org), the Institute of Education Sciences’ (IES) What Works Clearinghouse (see http://www.ed.gov/ies/whatworks/), and the Coalition for Evidence-based Practices (see hhtp://www.evidencebasedprograms.org).
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