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Work in Progress: The Incorporation of Hands-On, Team-Based Design Challenges in a Large Enrollment Introductory Biomedical Engineering Course

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Biomedical Division Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Jennifer H. Choi University of California - Davis

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Jennifer Choi is currently a Lecturer with potential for security of employment (LPSOE) in the Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) at UC Davis. In addition to teaching core undergraduate courses, Jennifer is aimed at integrating engineering design principles and hands-on experiences throughout the curriculum, and playing an active role in the senior design course. She has interests in engineering education, curricular innovation, as well as impacting the community through increased K-12 STEM awareness and education. Prior to joining UC Davis, Jennifer taught in the BME Department at Rutgers University, and was a postdoctoral fellow at Advanced Technologies and Regenerative Medicine, LLC. She received her doctoral degree in Biomedical Engineering from Tufts University, M.S. degree from Syracuse University, and B.S. degree from Cornell University.

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Works in Progress: The incorporation of hands-on, team-based design challenges in a large enrollment introductory biomedical engineering course

In an effort to enhance student engagement and incorporate principles of teamwork and design earlier into our curriculum, our first year, introductory biomedical engineering course has been redesigned from a traditional, lecture-based survey course to an active, team-based learning course. The current fall 2015 quarter is the first offering of this course redesign. In addition to introductory BME track lectures from various faculty in the department as well as several BME career-focused discussions, students are also engaged in two team-based design challenges throughout the ten week quarter.

The major goal for the first design challenge was to have students engage in active teamwork and begin purposefully thinking about communication, organization and cooperation. The first design challenge, which was introduced on the 2nd day of class, was a 2-day challenge, in which students were assigned to teams based on seating arrangement in a fixed-seating lecture hall. Thirty teams of five students each were tasked with building a device that could transfer 100 ml of water from one cup to another using four defined mechanisms. This was to be completed for the next class period, in which all designs were tested outside. Additionally, teams were required to sign a code of cooperation at team initiation, assign specific team roles, complete a group reflection paper, and assess others in their teams through a peer evaluation. The group reflection paper asked teams several questions related to communication, organization and cooperation. This set the stage for the second design challenge, which spans the remainder of the quarter. In this current challenge, teams were introduced to the engineering design process, and tasked with designing and making an assistive device to aid a hemiplegic child tie his shoe with one hand. The goal for this second challenge is for students to continue gaining teamwork skills, as well as to bring students through the design process at a simplified level. Students are engaging in the various steps of the design process week to week, and will be assessed through team meetings with their assigned Teaching Assistant, a final reflection paper, peer evaluation, and completion of the challenge. As with the first challenge, students will be testing their prototypes during class at the end of the quarter.

Qualitative feedback from students thus far indicate an appreciation for gaining experience in working with different personalities and styles, and in addition to the various modes of assessment mentioned, a pre- and post-course survey will also be utilized to assess the student experience and perspective on the design challenges and course redesign. At the completion of the course, changes in peer evaluation scores will be assessed, and longer term effects on student retention in the major will be evaluated.

Choi, J. H. (2016, June), Work in Progress: The Incorporation of Hands-On, Team-Based Design Challenges in a Large Enrollment Introductory Biomedical Engineering Course Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27042

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