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Board 42: Using Mobile Learning to Improve Low Success Rate in Engineering Courses

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Civil Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

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Paper Authors


Zhaoshuo Jiang P.E. San Francisco State University Orcid 16x16

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Zhaoshuo Jiang graduated from the University of Connecticut with a Ph.D. degree in Civil Engineering. Before joining San Francisco State University as an assistant professor, he worked as a structural engineering professional at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) LLP. As a licensed professional engineer in the states of Connecticut and California, Dr. Jiang has been involved in the design of a variety of low-rise and high-rise projects. His current research interests mainly focus on Smart Structures Technology, Structural Control and Health Monitoring and Innovative Engineering Education.

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Alec William Maxwell San Francisco State University

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Alec Maxwell is currently an graduate student in the School of Engineering at San Francisco State University (SFSU). Besides actively conducting research on innovative tools for engineering education in the Intelligent Structural Hazards Mitigation Laboratory at SFSU with Prof. Zhaoshuo Jiang, he also serves the community as the President of the American Society of Civil Engineers for the SFSU chapter.

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Zahira H. Merchant San Francisco State University

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Mechanics of Solids is a fundamental core course in Engineering. In San Francisco State University (SFSU), it is a prerequisite course for six Civil Engineering (CE) and seven Mechanical Engineering (ME) courses. Being a prerequisite for these courses, Mechanics of Solids is a very critical course for both Civil and Mechanical students. However, Engineering doesn’t come easy to everyone. Lack of practical examples, accessible materials, timely guidance and feedback from instructor are identified as three of the reasons for the low success rate of this course according to the past course surveys and evaluations. Besides, it has been observed that students often miss the global picture and connections between various concepts due to the large number of topics involved in the course. Furthermore, students come with different prerequisite knowledge, which is difficult to accommodate with the limited amount of class time.

To combat these challenges, a series of strategies designed upon mobile technologies are developed and implemented at SFSU. These include recorded review videos to help students review prerequisite concepts, a series of interactive mobile learning apps to help students consolidate and practice gained knowledge, and virtual office hours to provide timely and easily accessible guidance and feedback to students. The highly interactive and concept-rich mobile knowledge apps are partially developed and used as complementary materials to engage students and stimulate active learning. Through these mobile apps, students can visualize complex concepts, create unlimited practice examples to consolidate the knowledge, and connect various concepts with an overall picture of the course.

Pre- and post- surveys were conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of the developed strategies to improve the students’ learning outcomes. Survey results demonstrated the improvement in participants’ knowledge competence after using the intervention. In addition to the surveys, the final grades of the students in Spring 2017 are compared to those from Fall 2014 to provide a direct performance comparison with and without using the intervention. The obtained information will be utilized to guide the future development and refinement of the tools, as well as understand what strategies could be used to better fit the need of the new generation learners.

Jiang, Z., & Maxwell, A. W., & Merchant, Z. H. (2018, June), Board 42: Using Mobile Learning to Improve Low Success Rate in Engineering Courses Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30031

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