Learning barriers in service courses: A mixed-methods study

Qaiser Malik, Punyashloke Mishra, Michael Shanblatt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This paper reports the results of a longitudinal study conducted on a service course offered to non-electrical engineering majors at a large Midwestern university. The study focused on understanding the reasons why students perform relatively low in service courses. The mixed method approach was used to measure the performance in two different ways and then triangulate the results for a deeper understanding of the issue. For the quantitative phase, a closed form questionnaire was developed for the entire class that measured student attitude and their understanding of core concepts related to a specific topic. For the qualitative phase, a concept map was developed for the specific topic for one-on-one interview sessions with a representative sample. The data was collected with the two instruments for five consecutive semesters (n 1=253, and n2=44). Our analyses of the data have identified some inherent flaws in the teaching methodology for service courses that contribute towards rote learning. These courses need to be made more relevant and conceptually grounded along with a refocusing of the course content. Moreover, the two instruments developed in this study may form the basis for a broader framework for the formative evaluation of engineering courses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)


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