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Engineering course now emphasizes student participation

%09Courtesy+of+Adam+Blumer%0A%0A%09A+group+of+engineering+students+study+together.+The+redesigned+introductory+engineering+course+encourages+student+participation+during+class.+

Courtesy of Adam Blumer

A group of engineering students study together. The redesigned introductory engineering course encourages student participation during class.

The computer programming for engineering applications course was recently restructured for the 2014-2015 academic year.

The introductory engineering course now emphasizes student participation, incorporation of discussion into the lecture and the addition of a lab, an aspect that was not previously a part of the course pioneered by Loukas Lazos, an associate professor at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Aside from the newly added lab time of three hours, the course now also has previous students working with current students to enhance understanding.

“The class has been restructured to incorporate one-to-one help, team-based activities during lecture and interactive learning tools,” Lazos said.

Lazos said that the major change to the lecture sessions is making them a flipped-classroom setting where the homework is done before the students attend the lecture.

“The students will review lecture material ahead of time, leaving class time for problem solving exercises and in-depth conceptual discussion,” Lazos said.

Students, such as Scott Marshall, an engineering sophomore, seem to be benefiting from the change in the course.

“Each lab piggybacks on the lab before it, which is a good structure for me because it helps me retain information,” Marshall said. “A lot of times, you will learn something and then forget it. I like the structure, and it means I’m not super stressed going into a test.”

Other students expressed conflicting feelings and concerns about the newly restructured course.

“It’s my first time taking this class, and I like computers and things like that,” said Sinan Elisha, a mathematics junior. “But I think what she was explaining was kind of different from the homework I have done and the chapter one I read.”

However, Elisha also thinks that the flipped-classroom style will be beneficial to students. Other students look forward to what the restructured course has to offer.

The current professor of the course, Ratchaneekorn Thamvichai, said that this is being done as part of an initiative for the Association of the American Universities, which is aiming to improve teaching practices for STEM — or science, technology, engineering and math — classes.

“We are trying to increase or enhance more active learning in the lecture, so that way students can hopefully learn better,” Thamvichai said. “They get to work in a team during the class time.”

Lazos emphasized that the engineering course is still a work in progress.

“[The course] will continue to evolve during the 2014 to 2015 academic year,” Lazos said.

—Follow Ariella Noth @sheba201

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