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The Effects of Student Narration in College Engineering Classes

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Technical Report

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U.S. Air Force Academy Air Force Academy United States

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Narration is a technique that has been used successfully in many contexts as part of K-12 education. Despite the significant use and success of this technique in certain primary education contexts, its use has not been documented in higher education. This research provides initial understanding of how narration might enhance undergraduate engineering education. By asking students in an mechanical engineering classes at the Air Force Academy to narrate, recite, and reflecton a pertinent selection of text from the courses textbook in class, the authors hypothesized that students would demonstrate an increase in conceptual understanding of course material. Additionally, the authors believed the students perception of the narration method might have an impact on the techniques success. The study investigated whether quiz performance was impacted by the incoming GPA of the student, participation in the narration condition, and the students overall qualitative impression of the narration techniques perceived benefits. While there was no significant change in the quiz performance of the overall class using narration, the individual students who narrated performed 44 higher on the narrated material than expected, based on the overall course performance on the exams. Furthermore, those participating in the narration discussion of a particular topic had 14 more correct responses than expected on the all-or-nothing quiz results. While the benefits on conceptual understanding seem to be restricted to the individuals who performed the narration or follow-on discussions in our current implementation, we believe there is potential for further refinements to provide broader benefits.

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