A Qualitative Evaluation of the Use of Multimedia Case Studies in an Introductory Engineering Course at Two Southeastern Universities
Keywords: engineering, case studies, pedagogy
AbstractThe purpose of this qualitative evaluation was to determine students' perceptions of the value and effectiveness of the use of multimedia case studies in introductory engineering courses at two universities. The action evaluation design was predicated on the 4P model, which includes presage, pedagogy, process, and product components. Students at a large, public university and at a smaller, private university completed surveys (N=102 for Fall 2011 and N= 36 for Spring 2012) and participated in focus groups (N=44 in Fall 2011 and N=12 in Spring 2012). Instructors at both universities collaborated to ensure similar course content. Findings include that students with prior knowledge of the concepts of the course through previous work in high school found the concepts to be redundant or reinforcing of their understanding. While some students preferred working alone, students noted the benefits of working in teams. The pedagogical tools and techniques used in the course that were perceived as helpful included project work that involved groups, lab-related activities, such as hands on projects, and lecture activities. Multimedia case studies were judged to be helpful in learning course concepts by 74% of students at the larger university and by 82% of students at the smaller university. Preferred process and product components included active learning, particularly working in groups to solve problems, which were a focus of the case studies. Areas of strength and needed improvement are also discussed from the viewpoint of students and the research team of instructors and evaluators.
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