June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
26.146.1 - 26.146.12
Active Learning and Engagement in Mechanics of Solids Keri Ryan Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering University of Nevada, RenoThe Mechanics of Solids course at University of Nevada, Reno is a large enrollment course servingseveral engineering disciplines. Most majors require mastery of the material at C or better level, and thecourse often has a lower student success rate than other courses in the engineering core. Instructors atUNR have experimented with a variety of methods to engage students more actively during the lecture,including use of “clickers”, in-class teamwork, laboratory experiments, etc.This semester, the various methods have been combined to produce a comprehensive transformation.The course topics have been organized into “Concept-Example” sequences, which are presentedthrough an alternating Lecture, Flipped Classroom format. Each new topic is presented in a live ConceptLecture, which includes theoretical derivations, simple examples or calculations, visuals, and clickerquestions for immediate feedback of comprehension. To prepare for the follow-up Flipped Classroomsession, students are asked to watch a series of videos (about 30 minutes) that present comprehensiveexamples building in complexity that integrate the new concepts with prior material. During the FlippedClassroom sessions, the students self-organize into teams of 4 and work at whiteboards that have beensituated around the room. The student teams work example or homework problems related to the newconcepts. Students take turns writing the solutions at the boards while consulting with their teammembers. Instructors and teaching assistants moderate the Flipped Classroom sessions by answeringquestions, identifying errors in the work, or providing other hints or suggestions for efficient problemsolving. Compared to working at desk, the use of whiteboards is critical to facilitate effective teaminteraction and moderation by the instructors. The technique can be used in large or small classrooms,but requires a student to instructor ratio of no more than 30:1.The objective of this paper is to evaluate student motivation and student achievement of learningobjectives using the new flipped classroom approach. Data to be used for evaluation includes studentperformance on exams, student course evaluations, student attendance rates, and anecdotal data.Preliminary evidence suggests that mean exam performance is not much changed but the standarddeviation is reduced, meaning that low performers showed significant improvement.
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