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Blending Interactive Courseware into Statics Courses and Assessing the Outcome at Different Institutions

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Innovations in Teaching: Statics

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

22.291.1 - 22.291.15

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Paper Authors


Anna Dollar Miami University

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Anna Dollár is an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering at Miami University in Oxford, OH, and previously was on the faculty of the
Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago. She received her Ph. D. in applied mechanics from Krakow University of Technology in Poland. Her teaching has been recognized by many awards including: University Excellence in Teaching Award (IIT), and E. Phillips Knox University Teaching Award (Miami University). Her research focuses on mechanics of solids
and engineering education.

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Ronald R. Ulseth Itasca Community College

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Ulseth is an engineering instructor at Itasca Community and Iron Range Engineering. He is the co-developer of both programs. For the past 20 years he has taught physics, statics, dynamics, fluid mechanics, and thermodynamics. For the past 10 years Ulseth has worked with a diverse group of engineering educators to develop and prototype a 100% project-based BS Engineering curriculum.

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Paul S. Steif Carnegie Mellon University

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Paul S. Steif is professor of Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. He received a Sc.B. in engineering from Brown University (1979) and M.S. (1980) and Ph.D. (1982) degrees from Harvard University in applied mechanics. He has been active as a teacher and researcher in the field of engineering mechanics. His research efforts focus strongly on engineering education. He seeks to understand how students learn (or do not learn) basic engineering subjects, and to develop educational materials that help students achieve fundamental understanding of engineering subjects. Much of his work currently addresses learning in Statics and mechanics of materials. Some current projects, which involve a number of collaborators, include: establishing a conceptual framework for Statics; devising tests to assess conceptual understanding in Statics; experiments to test the effectiveness of metacognitive strategies; reorganizing instruction in Statics and formulating interactive materials for on-line instruction.

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Blending Interactive Courseware into Statics Courses and Assessing the Outcome at Different InstitutionsWe present an “inverted classroom” approach to blending web-based learning materialsinto instructor-led statics courses. By using the web-based materials students receiveinitial exposure to a topic prior to class. Initial exposure outside of class typically leads tolearning of basic ideas by many students, although they remain with questions oruncertainties regarding more complex or subtle ideas. Class time, which offersopportunities for deeper student-instructor interactions, can then be used, for example, toaddress students’ remaining questions and more complex or interesting applications. Toleverage student work on web-based materials prior to class, instructors need to trackstudent on-line learning activities and identify the concepts and skills that students stillneed to master. In fact, the web-based materials are instrumented to record studentanswers, and provide the results in readily accessible aggregated form to instructors.The courseware used in this study has been developed by two of the authors as part of theCarnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative (OLI) to develop cognitively informededucational resources that enact instruction. This courseware has benefited from priorresearch into conceptual knowledge in Statics and the psychometric analysis of theStatics Concept Inventory. It also incorporates many general lessons from the learningsciences that are broadly relevant, as described in previous papers presented by theauthors at ASEE conferences. The courseware, freely available to individual learners andinstitutions, currently consists of six units, each containing a set of modules. Each moduleis based on a set of carefully articulated learning objectives and contains expository textand various interactive exercises and simulations. Assessment is tightly integrated withineach module, with students confronting formative “Learn by Doing” activities, whichoffer hints and feedback, and summative “Did I Get This” interactive assessments at theend of each section to signal if learning objectives were met.The paper reports on the experiences in blending the courseware into Statics courses attwo distinct institutions, one offering a four year BS engineering degree, and one with atwo-year engineering associate’s degree. We show how the same overall approach isplausibly adaptable at many types of institutions, while allowing for significant variationto suit different needs or preferences. We also report on measures of learning and studentdevelopment, and seek to understand the impact of the materials and their blended use onstudents.

Dollar, A., & Ulseth, R. R., & Steif, P. S. (2011, June), Blending Interactive Courseware into Statics Courses and Assessing the Outcome at Different Institutions Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC.

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