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International Journal of Engineering Education ; 38(5):1562-1576, 2022.
Article in English | Web of Science | ID: covidwho-2101488


Research suggests that online learning should be more engaging and collaborative to provide a compatible alternative to in-person learning. Many educators have implemented active learning in their in-person classrooms, while only a few assess how effective similar techniques are in virtual environments. The authors hypothesize that virtual learning, including active learning components, can improve student learning in virtual environments. Furthermore, the authors hypothesize that learning in virtual settings would be affected by students' gender, ability, and familiarity with the topic. The authors conducted a quasi-experimental study involving eighty-seven students from two institutions who participated in an online workshop covering fundamental concepts in construction scheduling. They were split into two groups: one group had no prominent active learning component, while the other was exposed to an active learning component. All participants completed pre and post-workshop surveys to assess their learning of the workshop outcomes and explore the effectiveness of virtual workshops and active learning components in online course delivery. The results of this study suggest that virtual workshops are effective in teaching construction scheduling, while active learning in the form of virtual pair-work does not have a significant positive impact on student learning. Furthermore, student performance in virtual workshops significantly differs based on gender, ability, and familiarity with the topic. Therefore, instructors need to be aware of significant student performance challenges, particularly for males and those with some familiarity with the topics covered in virtual workshops. Since this study was conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, the authors present further challenges and recommendations for educators and institutions under similar emergency circumstances.