Publication Date


Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Title

ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings


During the Spring 2020 semester, after the transition to online modality due to the COVID-19 pandemic, student engagement and participation level dropped significantly and student performance suffered in “Computer Programing for Aerospace Engineers” (AE 30), a lower division computer programming course in Aerospace Engineering. Cognitive empathy, metacognition, and zyBooks (specific brand of interactive online course material) are known to improve student engagement, participation, and performance. Thus, a cognitive empathy ice-breaker activity, a metacognition exam reflection exercise, and interactive zyBook exercises were incorporated and implemented in AE 30 to help mitigate the effects of the pandemic in the new online environment. The current investigation presents the assessment of the activities and exercises as effective means of improving student engagement, participation, and performance in an online modality amid a pandemic during the Spring 2020 semester. Instructor observations revealed that the cognitive empathy ice-breaker was a powerful way to allow students to share difficult emotions but created a distracting and intimidating atmosphere. However, after the cognitive empathy ice-breaker, students were more engaged and participative than on other days. The metacognition exam reflection and interactive zyBook exercises were found to be moderately correlated to improved student performance.

Funding Sponsor

American Society for Engineering Education


©2021 American Society for Engineering Education


Aerospace Engineering