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Work in Progress: Redesign of Introductory Bioengineering Course to Increase Student Engagement

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Biomedical Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1757.1 - 26.1757.11



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Paper Authors


Ruth Ochia P.E. Temple University Orcid 16x16

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Ruth S. Ochia received her B.S. degree in biomedical engineering from The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md., in 1992 and her Ph.D. degree in bioengineering from the University of Washington, Seattle, Wash., in 2000.
From 2000 to 2002, she was a Post-doctoral Fellow in the Center of Locomotion Studies, at The Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pa. From 2002 to 2006, she was a Post-doctoral Fellow and then Assistant Professor at Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Ill. From 2006 to 2009, she was a Senior Associate with Exponent, Inc. From 2009 to 2013, she was principal of RSO Consulting, LLC, and taught as an Adjunct Professor at Widener University, Chester, Pa. Since 2013, she has been an Associate Professor with the Bioengineering Department, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pa. Her research interests have included Biomechanics, primarily focusing on spine-related injuries and degeneration. Currently, her interests are in engineering education, curriculum development, and assessment.

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Work in Progress: Redesign of Introductory Bioengineering Course to Increase Student EngagementMany undergraduate bioengineering programs have an introductory course that is used to acquaintstudents to the broad and varied field of bioengineering. Our program initially designed this requiredintroductory course in a typical ‘survey’ presentation style, where guest lecturers from a variety ofbackgrounds in bioengineering would present their research to the class via a lecture-style format. Thestudents were given examinations on the presented material and did group final projects (written and oralportions) on a bioengineering topic of their choice. The hope was that students would be more familiarwith the bioengineering faculty and pathways offered in our department so that they would be better ableto choose a course of study for the remainder of their undergraduate career. However, student feedbackindicated that many of the lectures were too “high level,” requiring more foundational knowledge than thestudents had in order to understand the presented material. The instructor commented that the examsrequired students to regurgitate unrelated facts about different areas of bioengineering with little higher-order thinking needed. This version of the course, as described by the education research literature, was“content-driven” and “teacher centered.”Based this experience, the course was redesigned based on the idea that after taking this course students1) will be excited about the bioengineering field, 2) see how bioengineering is used to solve global healthproblems, and 3) will be able to choose a course of study based on greater understanding of thepossibilities and requirements of each bioengineering pathway. Therefore the course learning goals wererevamped based on Fink’s Taxonomy to promote greater student engagement and motivation. The guestlecturers present real-world issues related to global health and illustrate how their area of bioengineeringaddresses these problems. In addition, the lecturers discuss needed didactic courses for students interestedin that particular field of study. The students also engage in the different bioengineering areas through useof primary scientific literature, popular science literature, available videos or podcasts, which areavailable asynchronously. Using facilitated group discussions and response papers, the students reflect onthe presented issues; which research has shown increases motivation and engagement and promotes thedesire to become self-directed learners. In this redesigned course, the students get exposed to variouscurrent topics in areas of bioengineering by content experts, meet the departmental faculty, and they alsoexplore a broader view of bioengineering than the specific research areas of current faculty.Preliminary feedback for the redesigned course has shown that students enjoy having the opportunity toreflect on the present materials and are glad that they can meet other faculty, who will be their futureinstructors. In the future, we will employ surveys to ask specific questions on potential changes in studentengagement and the effectiveness of this course between the current and prior student cohorts.

Ochia, R. (2015, June), Work in Progress: Redesign of Introductory Bioengineering Course to Increase Student Engagement Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.25093

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