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Bringing Feedback Into The Course Development Loop

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.245.1 - 6.245.5

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Paper Authors

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Eric Zimmerman

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Donna Dorminey

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

ASession 1697@

Bringing Feedback into the Course Development Loop

Donna Dorminey, Eric Zimmerman United States Military Academy


Student feedback contributes to course development through incorporation into a subsequent course design problem. The authors reviewed course-end critiques and identified two general trends. 1) Students found fluid mechanics concepts abstract and difficult to conceptualize and 2) students desired more realistic and challenging design opportunities. These two general comments were considered in the development of the subsequent course syllabus. The following semester course design problem directly addressed the first feedback trend above. Students were given the following problem statement: “Previous Fluid Mechanics students have identified the need for more visual demonstrations and experiments involving key Fluid Mechanics Concepts.” Design groups were formed and assigned one of twelve key course concepts for which to design a solution or demonstration of the stated problem. This technique enhances the course in several ways. First, students that provided the original feedback are assured that their comments are indeed reviewed and considered important. Second, students accomplishing the design found that they had a truly open-ended, realistic and challenging problem to solve. Third, student motivation for the design was increased. Fourth, several of the final design products will be used in future semesters to enable students to more easily grasp fluid mechanics concepts.

I. Introduction

The United States Military Academy (USMA) must prepare its mechanical engineering graduates to meet diverse expectations in a technical army and in careers beyond the military. A primary mission of the academy is to develop “leaders of character” who have the capability to identify and solve complex problems. In fact, the military decision-making process is strikingly similar to many versions of design (or scientific, or problem-solving) processes as demonstrated in Figure 1.

The first step in any problem solving process is to define the need or identify the problem. Student feedback is an excellent method for gathering information and identifying shortfalls in many aspects of engineering instruction. Students at USMA complete a course-end survey for every course of instruction at the academy. Surveys completed for EM362A, Fundamentals of Fluid Mechanics, identified two shortfalls in the course that were addressed through the course design problem for the subsequent semester:

a) Fluid mechanics concepts are abstract and difficult to conceptualize b) Students desired more realistic and challenging design opportunities

“Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2001, American Society for Engineering Education”

Zimmerman, E., & Dorminey, D. (2001, June), Bringing Feedback Into The Course Development Loop Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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