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Assessing News Ways Of Teaching Dynamics: An Ongoing Program To Improve Teaching, Learning, And Assessment

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.91.1 - 4.91.10

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Paper Authors

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Patricia M. Yaeger

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Rose M. Marra

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Francesco Costanzo

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Gary L. Gray

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

Session 3530

Assessing News Ways of Teaching Dynamics: An Ongoing Program to Improve Teaching, Learning, and Assessment

Patricia M. Yaeger, Rose M. Marra, Gary L. Gray, Francesco Costanzo The Pennsylvania State University


In spring 1998, a traditional lecture and problem-solving based course in introductory dynamics was infused with interactive learning activities. The enhanced course called “Interactive Dy- namics” was designed to engage students in a collaborative environment in which students have easy access to an array of technological tools (web-based simulations, spreadsheets, computa- tional and simulation tools, etc.). They used these tools to generate and analyze data, observe graphic representations of the data, and construct and interact with simulations. To assess the innovations introduced into this course, we conducted pre- and post-tests on dy- namics content in the Interactive sections and in the control (traditionally taught, lecture-style) sections of the course. Additionally, we collected data for other learning objectives congruent with ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering Technology) 2000 Criteria, e.g., teamwork, problem solving, communications, and computer skills. While gains in mechanics content knowledge for students in innovative sections were similar to those of students in traditional sec- tions, students in active learning classrooms reported statistically significant gains in teamwork and computer skills. The data indicate the new course design reinforces the ABET goals of en- couraging innovative practices in the classroom that enhance learning and develop skills needed in the workplace.

This paper addresses several issues: (1) how do we develop measures that accurately reflect learning objectives given the innovative teaching practices, (2) what learning outcomes are af- fected when active learning strategies are employed in the engineering classroom, and (3) how can we use these assessments to improve teaching, learning, and assessment in future semesters? We used the data to enhance activities and assessment for classes being taught during fall 1998 and continue to look for ways to improve the teaching and assessment process.

1 Introduction

It is becoming increasingly important that graduates in engineering have the skills needed to be- come immediately productive without the “on-the-job” training that has been typical of recent decades. In order to achieve this goal, engineering educators must have a clear understanding of the current as well as future job markets. In the United States, accreditation boards such as ABET [1], agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) [2], and major corporations such as Boeing [3] play an important role in discerning these needs. Therefore, they offer a “vi- sion” that allows one to set the correct strategic goals. In fact, the strategic goals set forth for en- gineering educational institutions by ABET, as stated in “Criterion 3: Program Outcomes and

Yaeger, P. M., & Marra, R. M., & Costanzo, F., & Gray, G. L. (1999, June), Assessing News Ways Of Teaching Dynamics: An Ongoing Program To Improve Teaching, Learning, And Assessment Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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