Training Overview Mentoring Model Curriculum Rubrics Roles/Practices/Photos  

Using Mentors to Improve Curriculum and Increase Learning


A three step process is used to create and continuously improve curriculum.  After the instructor creates the classroom curriculum, mentors lead classroom activities.  Mentors assess the learning and give the instructor feedback, emphasizing strengths and weaknesses.  The instructor weighs the mentors’ suggestions and refines the curriculum.  This process repeats infinitely; each cycle increasing learning for both students and mentors.

The process of creating, executing, assessing and improving curriculum

  Mentor Role Instructor Role
Step 1:
Instructor Creates Curriculum
None Focus on two questions when designing the initial curriculum.  1) the instructor must have a clear understanding of the learning objectives for each class.  Does the curriculum address these objectives?  and 2) the instructor must focus on the mentors’ role in the classroom.  How and where will the mentors engage the students?
Step 2:
The mentors use the initial curriculum
Plan the class time and facilitate learning; keep focused on the class learning objectives.  Request input and collaborate on any vague issues. Meet with the mentors to discuss how they plan to use the curriculum in the classroom.  Allowing the mentors to plan the class time results in both mentor ownership of the curriculum and better execution of it.  During this step, the instructor must allow the mentors freedom in the classroom and not interfere with their choices.  Instructors may find it better to actually not be present during class time.
Step 3:
The mentors assess and give feedback.
Assess the effectiveness of the plan and its execution.  Immediately provide strengths, improvements and insights back to the instructor. Focus on accepting the feedback graciously.  When the instructor disagrees with the feedback, accept the feedback graciously.  Feedback is vital because it describes the mentors’ legitimate experience with the curriculum in the classroom.  After the instructor incorporates the feedback into the curriculum, the process is repeated.

A flowchart of the process is shown in the figure below.


Below is a laboratory syllabus with very brief lab descriptions.  This lab is entirely led by the student mentors described on this website.  Note the scope and focus on team performances in an introductory design class.





Chip Flipper 1

Teams build a device to flip a poker chip over


Chip Flipper 1 improvement

Improve model based on metrics for number of assembly steps, simplicity of processes and part counts


Chip Flipper 2

Teams build a device to stack a pile of poker chips


Chip Flipper 3

Teams build a device to collate poker chips of different colors


Design Show

Team presentation of work to the instructor


Spud Gun

Pairs create a math model of a "spud gun"



Pairs design a "MONDO slingshot" using numerical integration to determine the number of rubber bands in the slingshot.



Pairs predict "parasheet descent" times using formulas in an Excel spreadsheet


Matrices and Matlab

Pairs write a program that solves Ax = b for x when matrices A and b are given and where A is square matrix and b is a column vector


Rocket Project Teams

Select teams to own project parts:  1) the rocket launch, 2) deployment of a digital camera and 3)reentry of camera taking pictures every second


Rocket Project

Team roles and organization + Ideas and sketches


Rocket Project

Design-build-test cycle .... Proto 1


Rocket Project

Professional engineer review and consulting .... Proto 2


Rocket Project

Design-build-test cycle …. Proto 3


Rocket Project

Launch/deployment/reentry team integration .... initial launch


Rocket Launch

Team presentation of work and notebooks + final live launch performances

ME223 Lab Syllabus Spring05 - University of Idaho