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Work in Progress: Combining At-home and On-campus Students in a Measurements and Analysis Lab Course

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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

Remote Physical Laboratories: Experimentation and Laboratory-oriented Studies

Tagged Division

Experimentation and Laboratory-Oriented Studies

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Paper Authors


Bridget M. Smyser Northeastern University

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Dr. Smyser is a Teaching Professor and the Lab Director of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering. Her research interests include lab design, lab pedagogy and capstone design.

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The global pandemic has forced many universities to adopt an online or hybrid approach to instruction. While this can be reasonably easy for lecture based courses, this provides a challenge for lab courses. Measurements and Analysis is a required junior level lab course at Unnamed University. To accommodate both on campus and remote students during Fall 2020, labs have been developed that require students to work in groups that contain students from both cohorts. All students have been provided with an identical kit of Arduino based sensors. The same sensors are used for both on- and off-campus students. Experiments require data from both cohorts to complete the required activities. For example, an experiment on the first law of thermodynamics has on-campus students studying a light bulb in a closed system, while the off-campus students study a light bulb in an open system. When possible, remote students interact synchronously with their on-campus teammates using Zoom or MS Teams, with the sessions being recorded for students in distant time zones. An additional advantage of these labs is that if classes must revert to completely online at some point during the term, on-campus data can be provided by the instructor to allow students to complete the experiments. The effectiveness of these experiments will be assessed through student surveys and comparison of student lab reports to previous lab reports teaching similar concepts. Initial data from the first experiment shows that 63% of the students surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that the labs were engaging, and 82% agreed or strongly agreed that the labs helped them learn course concept. Open ended responses showed that while students did have technology issues at times, most of the negative responses had to do with the first lab seeming unchallenging rather than being a poor lab experience. Many students were very enthusiastic about the hands on nature of the experiments and the opportunity to practice their circuit building skills. In the near future, past results from introducing new experiments and new data acquisition systems will be compared to measure if the new lab was presented more successfully than past labs, and note what best practices can be learned from the comparison.

Smyser, B. M. (2021, July), Work in Progress: Combining At-home and On-campus Students in a Measurements and Analysis Lab Course Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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