Cooperative learning: introduced in three different levels of electrical engineering courses at a military institution
FIE '98. 28th Annual Frontiers in Education Conference. Moving from 'Teacher-Centered' to 'Learner-Centered' Education. Conference Proceedings (Cat. No.98CH36214)
Cooperative learning and group work should be prime teaching styles and methods for the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA). For one thing, the students, midshipmen, are all housed in a single dormitory. They have easy access to each other for group homework and group studying, and most of them have commitments to be on campus nightly (Sunday -Friday), as well as most weekends throughout the semester. Also, the midshipmen are formally trained in leadership roles and team management throughout their four
... ears, as part of their military requirement. So the assignment of leadership roles in group learning and their cooperative efforts should come naturally. Therefore, a comprehensive effort to introduce many aspects of cooperative learning was attempted in three different levels of electrical engineering (E.E.) courses for juniors at the USNA this academic year (97-98). The Naval Academy requires every midshipman to take an E.E. course, to familiarize each of them with the technical terms and basic electrical systems that they may encounter in the fleet. One level of the courses was taught to the Humanities majors, one level was taught to the Engineering majors, and another level was taught to the Electrical Engineering majors. This paper addresses the advantages and disadvantages of the new cooperative teaching methods, which were implemented to these three different classes of students. Richard M. Felder and Rebecca Brent introduced these learning styles to the USNA in the beginning of the fall semester in an inspiring "Effective Teaching Workshop". A discussion is provided on how the methods matched the different classes, and on how they were assessed by the students and the professor.