June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
26.197.1 - 26.197.12
An Interactive Dynamics Learning CourseAbstract:The key course of Dynamics, taught in all Engineering and Engineering Technology (ET) curricula, coversa broad spectrum of foundational concepts, such as velocity, acceleration, force, energy, impulse, andmomentum. It is well-recognized that Dynamics is a fundamental building block for many subsequentcourses such as Machine Design, Applied Fluid Mechanics, Thermodynamics, and Heat Transfer.Engineering programs often focus on theory and conceptual design, while ET programs emphasize theapplications of these principles. However, in Engineering and in ET, successful learning of Dynamicsdemands several interrelated skills on the part of students, beginning with spatial visualization, a cleargrasp and application of physical concepts in various settings, followed by mathematical skills. Theseskills, if developed harmoniously, should lead to the successful development of problem-solving skills inDynamics. However, in our consistent experience, students struggle with spatial visualization as well asphysical concepts, which blocks further progress in their learning. At two engineering universities,Dynamics courses (MET ---- and MET ---, respectively) are high-enrollment, high-impact sophomore METcore courses. 2004-2013 GPA data for MET courses offered at --- confirm the statement made by Magill that Dynamics is “one of the more difficult courses that engineering students encounter during theirundergraduate study.”Dynamics is essentially the study of motion, but textbooks and whiteboards, the traditional classroomteaching tools, cannot capture this motion. MET --- and MET --- have traditionally been taught in “chalkand talk” mode, where the instructor presents three, 50-minute lectures per week. For the majority ofthe class duration, students passively take notes on theory and example problems presented by theinstructor, while about ten minutes might be devoted to questions and answers. In this way, studentsare not actively engaged in the learning process. To try and remedy these deficiencies, we plan todevelop an interactive class that will essentially transform the lecture-intensive course into an“Interactive Dynamics Learning Course” (IDLC) that willa. directly address the hands-on learning approach of ET students,b. enable students to clearly visualize particle and rigid body motion and forces, which theystruggle with in traditional classes,c. enhance their comprehension of key physical concepts, and therebyd. improve their problem-solving skills and comprehension of the subject.To study the impact on student learning in the IDLC, a pilot study will be conducted. A four-barmechanism will be designed and a manipulative model fabricated that students will directly work with inthe spring 2014 semester Dynamics course at one of the universities. Plexiglas would be used to buildthe linkage, making it lightweight and relatively inexpensive. The linkage will have a base to allow thedevice to rest on a table, and have a handle which will be used for inputting the motion at the motorjoint. This pilot study will allow students to explore the relative motion and forces at different points ofthe linkage by adjusting the lengths of the various links. They will also be able to trace the path of therocker joint on paper. In addition to the devices, simulations (e.g., based on Working Model 2D, SolidWorks, or others) of the linkage will also be made available on the course web-site. These simulationswill be accessible even outside regular class times, and will substantially help to fix the concepts in thestudents’ minds. To evaluate the success of the intervention, a pre-and-post- IDLC statistical assessmentof the improvements in student comprehension and problem-solving ability will also be conducted.
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