The goal of this study is to introduce a cooperative learning strategy, implemented in a Computer Engineering Junior-level class, and examine its effect on students’ learning outcomes.
This research paper aims to: 1) Introduce an approach to implement cooperative learning in engineering classrooms; 2) investigate the effectiveness of the proposed approach in achieving the learning objectives; 3) evaluate the effect of peer mediation in promoting active learning in comparison to traditional approaches; 4) propose a method to assess criteria (7)* in ABET’s newly approved student learning outcomes.
Motivation and Methodology:
Cooperative learning, defined as “the instructional use of small groups so that students work together to maximize their own and each other’s learning ", has been recognized as one of the most effective pedagogical technique in educational research. When done well, it motivates students to engage and participate in the learning process while developing their interpersonal and communication skills. However, while research in cooperative learning offers a variety of instructional strategies and techniques, few are found to be easily adaptable in engineering classrooms  .
The methodology introduced in this paper facilitates new technologies to encourage: student/faculty interaction, cooperation among students, and active learning in a junior-level computer engineering class. A voting software is used to conduct in-class online quizzes where results are presented and discussed in real-time. After presenting each question, students are given two chances to submit their answers; both answers are recorded and graded for analysis. Before re-submitting their final answers, students are directed to engage in group discussions with their peers and agree on one correct answer to re-submit. The final results and correct answers are displayed and discussed with the students before moving on to the next question.
The classroom activities are designed to:
1) Shift the learning and teaching to students and allow them to engage in in-class discussions
prompted by a lack of understanding of selected topics.
2) Allow students to identify and recognize their area of struggle before attempting to find solutions.
3) Facilitate peer-mediation among student to resolve misconceptions.
4) Assess students’ ability to apply their knowledge through group discussions while achieving the learning objectives in a dynamic environment.
In their research to identify the most effective teaching and learning strategies, a group of psychologists at the University of Michigan reviewed more than 500 research studies and concluded that "students teaching other students" can be classified as the second best most effective teaching method . Most Cooperative Learning techniques require students to work together in groups of two or more to achieve a common task. While the implementation of these techniques differs from one discipline to another, they all share the basic structure of shifting the teaching and learning to students while retaining the teacher’s traditional role of the subject expert in the classroom. Several instructional strategies such as: think-aloud pair problem solving, send-a-problem, case study, and group investigation have been tested and put into practice in engineering classrooms . Research to date has proven that group and peer learning improves academic achievement and the quality of relationship among students and between students and faculty. It has also shown that cooperative approaches promote higher self-esteem than competitive or individualistic practices.
The goals and objectives of this study were assessed using both quantitative and qualitative data analysis. All assessment data was collected from junior-level computer engineering classes with 45-52 students per class in two academic school years. The collected data included:
• Students’ performance in quizzes and activities in both cooperative and traditional classroom
settings. Students could resubmit their answers to a quiz questions after peer mediation in the
cooperative approach, or after teacher elaboration in the traditional setting.
• Students’ evaluation of the cooperative learning tools collected from four different semesters.
• Pre and post surveys to evaluate the effectiveness of the instructional method in achieving the
• End of semester survey to evaluate the cooperative learning methodology used in the classroom.
Statement of Results:
The quantitative data analysis from the study showed that students’ performance in quizzes that were conducted using the cooperative approach has improved by 44.67%, compared to 36.25% improvement in the traditional setting. The overall students’ evaluation of the instructional tools improved from 3.93 (on a 5-point scale) in the traditional setting to 4.44 in cooperative classes. The qualitative analysis showed great appreciation of the implemented methods. Students indicated that the online quizzes were very helpful, especially when they were given a chance to discuss the question with their peers. Several students specified that the peer collaboration sessions improved their understanding of the material and enhanced their communication and interpersonal skills.
Presentation Preference: Poster Session
 Barkley E. F., Cross K. P., Major C. H., "Collaborative Learning Techniques, A Handbook for College Faculty," John Wiley & Sons 2005.
 McKeachie, W. J., Pintrich, P. R., Smith, D. A., & Lin, Y. G. “Teaching and learning in the college classroom: A review of the research literature. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan”, 1986.
 M. Guzdial, P. Ludovice, M. Realff, T. Morley, K. Carroll, and A. Ladak, "The Challenge of Collaborative Learning in Engineering and Math." 31st Annual Frontiers in Education Conference, October 2001.
Are you a researcher? Would you like to cite this paper?
Visit the ASEE document repository at
for more tools and easy citations.