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An Integrated Modeling, Analysis, And Authoring Environment For Structural/Mechanical Engineering Education

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Physical Models and Other Interactive Tools

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.196.1 - 11.196.13



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Paper Authors

author page

Gregory Miller University of Washington

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

An Integrated Modeling, Analysis, and Authoring Environment for Structural/Mechanical Engineering Education Abstract

This paper presents an approach for technology-enhanced instruction based on embedding presentation capabilities within an interactive analysis environment. The idea is to combine the advantages of open-ended student exploration and experimentation with mechanisms for providing context, guidance, and formal instruction. The ultimate goal is to create a class of tools that are not only effective in helping students learn, but also are attractive to faculty in regards to constructing their own materials and activities. The paper presents both a description of the analysis/presentation environment and the evaluation outcomes of a pilot implementation focused primarily on the student learning side of the equation.


It is generally accepted in the engineering education community that well-designed, technology- enhanced, student-centered learning activities can be effective in helping students learn. However, if one looks around at a typical university or junior college, one finds relatively few examples of such activities taking place compared to more traditional lecture/textbook approaches. There are many reasons for this, most of which revolve around the typical realities of time pressures, reward systems, and their effects on motivation. An argument can be made that an additional aspect of this is that faculty, like their students, are significant stakeholders in the educational process, and instructional approaches that give faculty the impression they are being marginalized are unlikely to take hold regardless of their effectiveness in regards to student learning outcomes. Adopting student-centered activities, materials, and exercises developed by others tends not to be particularly attractive proposition for many faculty, at least partially because this can be perceived as placing them more in the role of glorified Teaching Assistant than course author. One of the intrinsic attractions of lecturing is that it enables faculty members to frame a given topic in their own way based on their own understanding of the subject. Personification and personalization of knowledge and understanding are among the principal ingredients that faculty members bring to a course, and many are resistant to give this up. To the degree this argument is valid, one approach to help broaden the use of effective instructional techniques would be a model for technology enhanced, student-centered learning activities that also promotes faculty engagement, ownership, and authorship. This presentation describes work focused on the initial development of such a model within the specific context of structural mechanics and design.

Historically, there have been many examples of tools supporting faculty instructional authorship and communication that have been adopted readily once the barrier to entry has fallen low enough. Word processors, course web sites, and presentation software represent three ready examples. However, the nature of such generic tools is that they do not allow one to work within an environment that is discipline specific or discipline cognizant. Materials must be captured (frozen, in a sense) and imported from other discipline-specific sources, and therefore dynamic interaction with the resulting materials is limited, if available at all. Tools that are designed to support interactive content also typically work by requiring external content creation and capture. The work presented here is based on taking a different approach---rather than bringing

Miller, G. (2006, June), An Integrated Modeling, Analysis, And Authoring Environment For Structural/Mechanical Engineering Education Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--974

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