Students who took an intensive, two-week course in mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems performed significantly better than students who took the same class in a standard long semester, reported Ifte Choudhury, associate professor of construction science at Texas A&M University, in an award-winning paper detailing results of a two-year study.
In his report, which recently earned Construction Division Best Paper honors from the American Society for Engineering Education, Choudhury speculates that students who took the two-week “minimester” course earned better grades than their long-semester counterparts because they were able to focus more sharply on the class material.
“Being in class for four-and-a-half hours every day helped minimester students know one another better and created a more collegial atmosphere,” said Choudhury. The environment, he added, led to more classroom interactions and in-depth discussions than those in long semester classes.
For his study, Choudhury taught four MEP systems classes, using the same syllabus for each during the long spring 2015 and 2016 semesters and for two post-spring minimesters that met 4.5 hours each weekday. Students in each of the four classes performed six assignments, took 10 quizzes and three tests.
Choudhury’s conclusions, based on statistical analysis of the students’ final letter grades, suggests a statistically significant difference in academic performance between the minimester and long semester students.
“Since the study included only one course, the findings cannot be generalized,” said Choudhury. He suggested, however, “the study might generate enough interest for further research on predicting performance of students in other courses.”
Papers in the construction division category included topics related to construction engineering and management education, partnerships between industry and academics, and the results of innovative- or technology-based educational practices.
Choudhury, who earned a Ph.D. in architecture at Texas A&M in 1994, focuses on housing, alternative technology, issues related to international construction, and construction education.
Choudhury’s research was lauded at the American Society of Engineering’s June 25-28, 2017 conference and exposition in Columbus, Ohio,