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Title: Board 34: Work in Progress: Simple, Scalable Interventions to Address Academic and Mental-Health Barriers in Engineering Undergraduates
The 2021 return to face-to-face teaching and proctored exams revealed significant gaps in student learning during remote instruction. The challenge of supporting underperforming students is not expected to abate in the next 5-10 years as COVID-19-related learning losses compound structural inequalities in K-12 education. More recently, anecdotal evidence across courses shows declines in classroom attendance and student engagement. Lack of engagement indicates emotional barriers rather than intellectual deficiencies, and its growth coincides with the ongoing mental health epidemic. Regardless of the underlying reasons, professors are now faced with the unappealing choice of awarding failing grades to an uncomfortably large fraction of classes or awarding passing grades to students who do not seem prepared for the workforce or adult life in general. Faculty training, if it exists, addresses neither the scale of this situation nor the emotional/identity aspects of the problem. There is an urgent need for pedagogical remediation tools that can be applied without additional TA or staff resources, without training in psychiatry, and with only five or eight weeks remaining in the semester. This work presents two work-in-progress interventions for engineering faculty who face the challenges described above. In the first intervention, students can improve their exam score by submitting videos of reworked exams. The requirement of voiceover forces students to understand the thought process behind problems, even if they have copied the answers from a friend. Incorporating peer review into the assignment reduces the workload for instructor grading. This intervention has been successfully implemented in sophomore- and senior-level courses with positive feedback from both faculty and students. In the second intervention, students who fail the midterm are offered an automatic passing exam grade (typically 51%) in exchange for submitting a knowledge inventory and remediation plan. Students create a glossary of terms and concepts from the class and rank them by their level of understanding. Recent iterations of the remediation plan also include reflections on emotions and support networks. In February 2023, the project team will scale the interventions to freshman-level Introductory Programming, which has 400 students and the highest fail/withdrawal rate in the college. The large sample size will enable more robust statistics to correlate exam scores, intervention rubric items, and surveys on assignment effectiveness. Piloting interventions in a variety of environments and classes will establish best pedagogical practices that minimize instructors’ workload and decision fatigue. The ultimate goal of this project is to benefit students and faculty through well-defined and systematic interventions across the curriculum.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1751553
NSF-PAR ID:
10479839
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ;
Publisher / Repository:
2023 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
Date Published:
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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