Comparing the effectiveness of semester-long vs. accelerated-summer course offerings
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American Society for Engineering Education, 2017. Many of the foundational courses in undergraduate engineering programs are essential prerequisites for the core major-specific courses pertaining to the respective engineering degree, and hence typically have high enrollments. As a result, in addition to being offered during the regular semesters (Fall and Spring semesters, which are typically about 15 weeks in duration), many of these are also offered in an accelerated format over summer sessions (typically about 5 weeks in duration). Such a different manner of offering the same course over drastically different durations is expected to have dissimilar levels of effectiveness - this paper is thus a comparative inquiry into the same. To compare the various aspects of effectiveness related to the difference in duration/format of course offerings, two sophomore-level foundational courses offered in the Manufacturing & Mechanical Engineering Technology (MMET) program within the Engineering Technology & Industrial Distribution (ETID) department at Texas A&M University (TAMU) were selected - one titled "Metallic Materials" (MMET 207) and the other "Mechanics for Technologists" (MMET 275).These were offered during the regular semesters as well as over summer sessions (5 weeks in duration), and each instructed by the same respective professors throughout the year. The evaluation mechanisms employed primarily involved comparing student performance in individual assignments as well as the overall grades, comparative tracking of student performance as the course progressed, as well as in immediately succeeding courses, offeringspecific comments in course/instructor evaluations as well as via surveys meant to gauge student impressions. Altogether, the results tend to show that although students generally did not prefer an accelerated-format from a convenience standpoint, they in fact performed better in the accelerated format offerings, as well as in the immediately succeeding courses.