Use of a Vertically Integrated Project Team to Develop Hands-On Learning Modules

A. Ferri, B. Ferri, R. Lineberg, K. Ferri, Z. Crawford, and J. Tamayo, “Use of a Vertically Integrated Project Team to Develop Hands-On Learning Modules,” 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition Proceedings, Jun. 2017.


Use of a Vertically Integrated Project Team to Develop Hands-On Learning Modules
Hands On Learning (HOL) is an excellent way to engage and motivate students and to enhance learning of difficult concepts [Astatke, et al., 2013; Ferri, et al., 2013; Ferri, et al., 2016]. In engineering education, hands-on learning has traditionally involved instructional lads or studio classes, which are focused on these types of activities. Recently, however, people have started to advocate for the distributed use of mobile, hands-on learning experiments that can be done by students in non-traditional settings. For example, students can now do sophisticated experiments with student-owned equipment and can perform the experiments on their own, or in traditional classroom settings. The combination of miniaturization of electronics together with student ownership of measurement equipment and/or smartphones means that there are now many more possibilities for hands-on learning than ever before. The biggest problem, however, is to know what experiences are effective, and how best to execute them. For the past two years, the authors have co-advised a Vertically-Integrated-Program on Hands-On Learning (VIP-HOL). VIP was developed by Coyle [Coyle, et al, 2014], and grew out of the EPICS program, for which Edward J. Coyle, Leah H. Jamieson, and William C. Oakes received the 2005 Gordon Prize from the NAE. The VIP program consists of teams of undergraduate students together with graduate students and faculty advisors who work on projects on a single theme. The unique aspect of VIP is that students remain in the program for several semesters, which allows them to transition from “learners to leaders” as they gain experience. At the authors’ institution, there are currently 41 VIP teams. In Spring 2015, the authors launched their VIP team on HOL. The premise of the team is to make students active partners in the educational process. In particular, the students are able to suggest projects that would facilitate the learning in courses and subject areas that they have encountered. Hence, a topic that they struggled with can be suggested as the focus of a design project on which a subteam of a few students can work. The projects on which the VIP team has worked include hands-on experimental platforms that are used in lecture-based classrooms as well as self-paced tutorials that students can work on in a maker space. As an example of the latter, the students developed an autonomous RC car and have demonstrated it at a number of workshops that they ran to introduce students to microcontrollers and embedded systems. They also suggest portable hands-on learning modules, followed by efforts to prototype, test, and implement the module into engineering classes. The full paper will describe the activities of the HOL group. Several projects that they have worked on will be described. Assessment data will be presented for the hands-on learning modules that they have developed to date. References: E.J. Coyle, J.V. Krogmeier, R.T. Abler, A. Johnson, S. Marshall and B.E. Gilchrist, “The Vertically-Integrated Projects (VIP) Program – Leveraging Faculty Research Interests to Transform Undergraduate STEM Education,” Proceedings of the Transforming Institutions: 21st Century Undergraduate STEM Education Conference, Indianapolis IN, Oct. 23-24, 2014 Ferri, B.H., Ferri, A.A., Majerich, D.M., and Madden, A.G., 2016, “Effects of In-Class Hands-On Laboratories in a Large Enrollment, Multiple Section Blended Linear Circuits Course,” to appear, Advances in Engineering Education. Ferri, B.H., Ferri, A.A., and Connor, K.A., “Mobile Experiment for Signals and Systems Courses: Analysis of a Guitar String,” ASEE Conference, Atlanta, Georgia, June 23-26, 2013. Astatke, Y., Chouikha, M.F., Connor, K.A. , Ferri, A.A., Ferri, B.H., Meehan, K., Newman, D.L., Deyoe, M.M., and Walter, D.J., “ Models of Adoption and Best Practices for Mobile Hands-On Learning in Electrical Engineering,” ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, Oklahoma City, OK, Oct 23-26, 2013.