Collaborative Research: IUSE: EHR - Enhancing and Expanding Experiential Learning Modules across Disciplines and Institutions

Project: Research project

Project Details


A “target point” is a vulnerable transition, or perhaps even an undesirable climate, that impacts the preparation steps toward becoming an engineer. According to NSF Engineering Doctorate, one of the most critical “target points” to successful professional formation of engineers is the engineering “core,” the middle two years of the four-year undergraduate experience. During these middle years, students take a bulk of courses in engineering fundamentals. These technically focused courses are critical junctures and are often the primary points of attrition. Uninspiring teaching, abstract content with seemingly little connection to “real” engineering, and lack of effective dissemination of best-practices of teaching are frequently cited as obstacles in learning in these years. Instructional interventions that engage the students and improve student success as well as retention at this target point are therefore vital. This two-year exploratory project brings together faculty members of Northwestern University (NU) and University of Florida (UF) with the aim of supporting the adaptation, dissemination and implementation of best practices in experiential learning. To accomplish this goal, we will focus on a three-quarter course sequence at NU Department of Biomedical Engineering and a two-course sequence at UF Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Both of these course sequences teach similar topics (circuits, signals and systems, modeling, instrumentation) that are geared towards building quantitative and computational skills needed to be successful in the workplace or graduate school. Both of these course sequences use portable lab kits and software that can be set up anywhere on a laptop. The differences are in methods of delivery and the types of experiential learning modules employed in the courses. The chief elements of this project entail adaptation of modules, development of the blended pedagogical approach, creation of video lectures, and building a web-based repository of the modules. The project will evaluate student learning preferences, student engagement, retention of material in subsequent courses in their respective sequences, transferrable skills between courses and learning of course concepts. The broader impact of this work will be the advancement of knowledge regarding supporting the successful adaptation of experiential modules across different curricula, engineering disciplines, institutional culture, and student population; providing support structures to engage research-focused faculty in curricular reform; and how different institutions adapt organizationally to sustain the courses.
Effective start/end date9/1/158/31/18


  • National Science Foundation (DUE-1504952)


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