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Nikos J. Mourtos Nikos J. Mourtos Professor & Director, Aerospace Engineering, San Jose State University, California, USA Student-Led Active Learning Workshops:

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Presentation on theme: "Nikos J. Mourtos Nikos J. Mourtos Professor & Director, Aerospace Engineering, San Jose State University, California, USA Student-Led Active Learning Workshops:"— Presentation transcript:

1 Nikos J. Mourtos Nikos J. Mourtos Professor & Director, Aerospace Engineering, San Jose State University, California, USA Student-Led Active Learning Workshops: Increasing Student Retention, Decreasing Time to Graduation and Providing High- Performing Students with Opportunities to Develop Coaching Skills

2 Background  Engineer = Problem Solver  Problem Solving ≠ Textbook Exercise Solving  Undergraduate engineering students:  Observe > 1,000 examples solved on the board  Solve > 3,000 homework exercises  Still lack the skills to tackle real world problems 1.  Textbook exercises help bridge theory + application; help develop foundational skills  Students have difficulty solving straightforward textbook exercises 1: Woods, D.R. et all, Developing problem solving skills: the McMaster problem solving program, ASEE J of Engineering Education, 86, 2, 75-91, 1997

3 Why? 1.No working knowledge in math + physics 2.Lack of coaching in problem solving skills 3.Inadequate time on task 1  1940’s 40 hrs / week class time + study  hrs / week class time + study  hrs / week studying  hrs / week studying  hrs / week studying 4.Lack of individual practice 1 - Arum, R. and Roksa, J., Academically Adrift, University of Chicago Press, Kindle Edition, (2011).

4 AL & CL in the Classroom  Emphasis on problem solving  Examples – solved on the board  Workouts – solved by students in small groups during class  Coaching students in class, while they solve problems  Students solve problems on the board  Credit for workouts solved correctly  Poor performance on tests 

5 Review & Retake  Doesn’t work!!! ~ 5% improved their score on retake exams  Does not address any of the root causes: 1. No working knowledge in math + physics 2.Lack of coaching in problem solving skills 3.Inadequate time on task 4.Lack of individual practice

6 Student-Led Active Learning Workshops – Fall 2011  Faculty train AE Honor Society Students (Sigma Gamma Tau) in AL techniques  Students work individually during the workshops to solve problems  HSS provide individual or group coaching as needed  Workshops offered before makeup tests  Students must attend workshop before taking a makeup test!

7 Improvements in Passing Rates  Math & Physics w/o workshops = 50% (Spring 2008 & earlier) w. workshops = 77% - 89% (Fall 2011)  Aerodynamics I w/o workshops = 63% (Fall 2010) w. workshops = 85% (Fall 2011)

8 Students who attended at least one workshop (Spring 2012)  Fluid Mechanics = 95% Could not attend due to time conflicts = 14%  Aerodynamics II = 96% Could not attend due to time conflicts = 18%

9 Student Feedback (Spring 2012)  Fluid Mechanics = 63% response, 86% + very helpful = 36% helpful = 50% not helpful = 9%  Aerodynamics II = 65% response, 96% + very helpful = 46% helpful = 50% not helpful = 4%

10 Student Perspective (Spring 2012)  Practice in a more relaxed atmosphere.  Increased ability for math modeling.  Coached into developing a problem solving approach.  Immediate help.

11 Student Perspective (Spring 2012)  Leaders would not give answers; provided hints; students challenged to think on their own; “I worked through each problem in ways I wouldn’t normally be attempting while studying on my own”.  Exposed to different kinds of problems, including open-ended; looked at problems from different angles.

12 Student Perspective (Spring 2012)  Problems were challenging; greatly enhanced their problem solving skills.  Identified weaknesses in their understanding of the material; opportunities to address these weaknesses.  “Without the workshops I wouldn’t have studied as much as I should for the makeup tests”.

13 Student Leaders’ Perspective  Student misconceptions: Doing well academically: ability to repeat verbatim information from text / lectures.  Contributing faculty practices: Exam problems identical to examples in text / lectures. Open book exams – students adapt existing solution from text / notes.

14 Improvements (Fall 2012)  Weekly or bi-weekly quizzes  Workshops are offered weekly  Students attend workshops before each test  Normally, no make up tests!  Special cases: to re-take a test: Must attend special workshop Must solve at least one problem correctly

15 Conclusions 1.Students have great difficulty solving even straightforward problems. These difficulties are both cognitive: a.No working knowledge in math + physics affective: b.Inadequate time on task c.Lack of individual practice lack of appropriate pedagogy: d.No coaching in problem solving skills 2.Student-led AL workshops address (d) but may also improve (a) and (b). 3.Student performance on tests has improved dramatically. Eliminate makeup tests altogether?


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