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WIP: Understanding the Communication Preferences of First-Year Students Before and During a Global Pandemic

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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

First-Year Programs Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

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Paper Authors


Oziel Rios University of Texas at Dallas

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Dr. Oziel Rios earned his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 2008 where his research focused on design of robotic systems with an emphasis on kinematic and dynamic modeling for analysis and control. Dr. Rios teaches the first-year and CAD courses in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Texas at Dallas. Dr. Rios has also taught kinematics and dynamics of machines and graduate-level CAD courses. Dr. Rios’ research and teaching interests include: robotics, design, kinematics and dynamics of machines and engineering education.

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Dani Fadda P.E. University of Texas at Dallas

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Dr. Fadda is Associate Professor of Practice in Mechanical Engineering. His background includes two decades of engineering practice in the energy industry where he has held numerous positions. Dr. Fadda has worked in product research and developed patented products for chemical, petrochemical, and nuclear applications. He is an ASME Fellow and a Professional Engineer.

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In this work in progress paper, the communication preferences among first-year engineering students are investigated before and during the global pandemic of 2020. A 5-point Likert scale survey was developed to determine the preferred communication method of students while working on an open-ended design activity. Using this survey, 421 students pre-pandemic (Fall 2018, Spring 2019, and Fall 2019 semesters) and 26 students during the pandemic (Fall 2020 semester) were asked to evaluate the effectiveness of email, in-person meetings, phone calls, social media, text messages and video conferencing. Pre-pandemic results show that a majority of students (above 70%) considered in-person meetings and text messages to be ‘very effective’ or ‘extremely effective’ forms of communicating. Pre-pandemic results also show that approximately half of students (about 50%) considered social media and 40% of them considered video conferencing to be ‘not at all effective’ or only ‘slightly effective’ forms of communicating. Results obtained during the pandemic (Fall 2020) indicate that 79% of students sampled now consider video conferencing to be a ‘very effective’ or ‘extremely effective’ form of communicating. Results during the pandemic resemble pre-pandemic results for social media indicating that over half of the students didn’t think it was an effective form of communication. These preliminary results demonstrate our expectation that students are fundamentally changing the way they communicate during this pandemic. The intent of this study is to continue monitoring the trends during the pandemic and post-pandemic to understand how students prefer to communicate and allow us to incorporate those preferences so course content can be more effectively delivered to them. This paper also provides a description of the student population sampled and a description of the team activities.

Rios, O., & Fadda, D. (2021, July), WIP: Understanding the Communication Preferences of First-Year Students Before and During a Global Pandemic Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--38064

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