By Students for Students: Using Course Projects to Create Learning Materials for Future Classes
2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access Proceedings
In order to improve student understanding of course concepts, as well as to increase the range of learning material available for students, a course contribution project was introduced in a heat and mass transfer course. This project required students to find potentially fun and effective means to communicate topics related to the course subject matter, with the project deliverables providing new learning tools that could be used to help other students learn. Students were given several
... l project types to select from: writing sample exam problems, for which both problem statements and solutions were required; producing a 5-minute video; writing and drawing a 10-page comic; or developing an experimental module that could be replicated by other students. Students also developed their own original projects, including computer simulations and board games. All of the projects were required to focus on concepts related to heat and/or mass transfer that were addressed in the course, including conduction, convection, heat exchangers, and separations equipment. The intended audience for each project output was the students' classmates, essentially meaning any student in the course. With the permission of the students who completed the project, the deliverables were shared with students who took the course in the following semesters, thus providing new learning tools and conceptual explanations to supplement instruction by the professor. Over the course of five semesters, 174 projects were completed by 283 students, with a range of project types completed. After introducing the course project and then subsequently providing the learning material to future classes, students both reported and were observed to have benefitted from the projects as additional learning tools. In terms of having worked on the project themselves, at least 84 percent of students felt working on the project helped them better understand specific course concepts, and at least 94 percent felt the project helped them to better communicate chemical engineering concepts. Students were also surveyed about projects provided for their learning that were produced by students in previous semesters. At least 92 percent of students claimed to have reviewed the projects produced by previous iterations of students, and at least 84 percent reported that the previous projects helped to improve their understanding. Further, student performance on exams improved over the course of several semesters as the previous projects were integrated into the course as additional learning tools. Assessment of the projects over several semesters, as both a deliverable by students and a learning tool for students, will be further discussed in this paper.