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Active Learning and Engagement in Mechanics of Solids

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Flipped Classrooms in Mechanics

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.146.1 - 26.146.12



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Paper Authors


Keri Ryan University of Nevada, Reno

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Keri Ryan is an Associate Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering at University of Nevada, Reno. She has taught core courses in mechanics to engineering students for 8 years, and has led the charge to bring innovative teaching methods to this course at University of Nevada, Reno. Besides teaching courses at the undergraduate and graduate level, she maintains an active research program in earthquake engineering.

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Adam Kirn Univeristy of Nevada, Reno Orcid 16x16

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Adam Kirn is an Assistant Professor of Engineering Education at University of Nevada, Reno. His research focuses on the interactions between engineering cultures, student motivation, and their learning experiences. His projects involve the study of student perceptions, beliefs and attitudes towards becoming engineers, their problem solving processes, and cultural fit. His education includes a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, a M.S. in Bioengineering and Ph.D. in Engineering and Science Education from Clemson University.

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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.

Ryan, K., & Kirn, A. (2015, June), Active Learning and Engagement in Mechanics of Solids Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23485

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