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Teaming Up to Meet GenZ Learning Needs

Letter From The Chair

Expanded EO Mission

Since its start in the early 1970s, Engineering Outreach (EO) has focused on delivering graduate/professional education to students at a distance in the US and internationally. Continuing this tradition, EO is now partnering with Mechanical Engineering and other academic departments in our college to focus on Generation Z (GenZ) students, ages 17-22. Currently, these learners incorporate online digital media (e.g., YouTube, Khan Academy) throughout their academic careers. Related pedagogical studies indicate that GenZ learners find short and focused content presentations, followed by interaction and assessment, to be more effective than traditional 50-minute lectures.

Next Generation Curriculum

The challenge for technical content specialists is to create and maintain learning engagement throughout the teaching-learning process. This requires pedagogical approaches rising above the ‘noise’ of simply wading through monotonous lectures or looking up answers online without the backdrop of social learning processes that lead to content mastery. Research shows that short, topic focused presentations, followed by interactive discussion/problem solving, mentoring, and assessment, are a more effective way for individuals to learn. In this ‘blended’ approach, one-way (teacher-to- learner) lectures are replaced by an integrated approach combining professionally produced learning modules (between five to ten minutes in length), in-class hands-on learning activities, student-student interaction, problem sets that emphasize transferring knowledge/skills to new situations, assessment, and remediation strategies (including re-viewing the learning modules).

FE Review Case Study

This instructional model was adopted for the newly reconfigured Fundamentals of Engineering Review Course during the 2018-19 academic year. Nearly 200 video shorts have been created for more than a dozen topic areas featured on the Mechanical Engineering FE Exam. These videos include overviews of different chapters in the FE reference manual (the only online resource available during the exam) as well as step by step solution of simulated exam problems. An online quiz bank consisting of 20-40 representative problems for each topic area (totaling more than 500 FE style problems) has been created to support an online assessment system. As part of the review course, students try out quizzes on each topic before class, watch videos about items connected to concepts/problems which they were most uncertain, come to the weekly review class for large group discussion/problem solving, and then take another online quiz to demonstrate competency on each topic.

Next Steps

FE materials will next be used as pre-assessment and postassessment tools in our engineering science courses. Lessons learned in video creation and in-class facilitation will be applied to improve access to just-in-time learning modules on specific sub-topics, strengthen problem solving skills, and collect classwide performance data for selected topic areas.

 
Steve Beyerlein
Chair, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Steven Beyerlein
Steve Beyerlein, Chair, Department of Mechanical Engineering

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