This work in progress paper will present preliminary results from a study investigating students’ engagement and satisfaction following implementation of multiple active learning strategies in an introductory programming course for engineers.
An introduction to programming course is one of the requirements for many engineering programs nationwide. At our institution this course is structured as a large lecture with 70-100 students across six different engineering disciplines per section. In this format students were often disengaged and had difficulty relating the material to their specific area of study and future coursework.
We have implemented several active learning strategies including flipped classroom structure, small group work, polling, peer-instruction and a self-directed project into our first-year programming course to improve student outcomes and satisfaction. Two pilots of the course including the self-directed project occurred in Fall 2016 and Winter 2017. The instructors used assessment and reflection to improve the structure of the project and the implemented additional student-centered active learning activities in the course. Following the pilot course offerings, data was collected from students over subsequent semesters (Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Fall 2018, and Winter 2019). Data included student surveys, outcomes, and retention data. The beginning of the semester survey for the course included questions from GRIT-S questionnaires and self-assessment of engineering skill. The end of semester survey included Intrinsic Motivation Inventory (IMI) questions, a repeat of the self-assessment of engineering skill, and impressions of the benefits of the various tools used in the class and the structure of the project.
This paper focuses on the relationship between student demographics groups, specifically those that are underrepresented, and how they perceived the benefits of the various aspects of the course. Future analysis will include looking at student outcomes (final grades), GRIT-S scores, IMI scores and self-assessed engineering skills in comparison to the benefit they perceived for different active learning and support aspects of the course. The results of this project and materials created will be shared in open-access repositories for use elsewhere. The analysis of how different groups perceive the various aspects of the course will direct the redesign of other entry level engineering courses to increase engagement and ultimately retention overall, but especially for those that are currently underrepresented in engineering.
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