Empowering Students with
Self-Assessments in a Project-Based Embedded Systems Course
Project-based methodology (PBM) for teaching and learning is not new, but to achieve its best potential always demands attention to meaningfully-constructed details in its application to course design. This paper reports how we implemented PBM in a graduate-level Embedded System course with particular attention to making use of students’ self-assessments (therefore meta-cognitive ability) as part of the self-regulation on the path from sub-tasks to the ultimate project to complete.
Specifically, as every big project is usually attacked, we divided the project of robot building into multiple sub-tasks as lab assignments. But what we particularly stressed is the importance of having the big picture (i.e. the ultimate goal of the project) in mind while completing the sub-tasks. To complete the sub-tasks is then not just for completion’s sake; students were handling each sub-task in a meaningful way understanding the significance of the skills in training - such as hardware and software co-design, algorithm design, debugging, and systems integration - in relation to their final product.
An additional element we designed into the course was the self-assessment by students for each sub-task. This element is not only an opportunity for the instructor to learn about students’ strengths and weaknesses but also for students to engage in self-reflection, which would then lead to the completion of the first self-regulation cycle (plan, perform, and evaluation), a process of making self-adjustment towards the ultimate goal. We believe students will feel empowered if they can are provided the opportunities to take leadership in the learning process of planning, performing, evaluation, and the next phase of planning towards the final goal. In this sense, instructors empower students by conceding teaching or lecturing and by allowing students to take ownership of learning.
The above as well as other aspects of course will be reported in the context of aligning the course to ABET learning outcomes. Students’ self-assessments and course evaluations as well as the instructor’s instructional notes will be collected and analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively to identify the successes and regrets of our effort to empower the students in the context of a project-based engineering course.
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June 24, 2017, and to all visitors after the conference ends on June 28, 2018
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