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Challenge-based Instruction in Measurements and Instrumentation

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Active and Project-based Learning

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.291.1 - 25.291.10



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Paper Authors


Isaac M. Choutapalli University of Texas, Pan American

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Isaac Choutapalli is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Texas, Pan American, Edinburg, Texas. His research interests include aeroacoustics and propulsion, experimental fluid mechanics, and optical flow diagnostics. He earned his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the Florida State University and a master's in applied mechanics from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, India.

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Robert A. Freeman University of Texas, Pan American


Young-Gil Park University of Texas, Pan American

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Young-Gil Park is an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas, Pan American. He received his Ph.D. degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana–Champaign in 2007. He conducts research on convective heat transfer enhancement and condensate retention management in compact heat exchangers. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in thermal-fluid sciences and computational methods.

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Challenge-Based-Instruction in Measurements and InstrumentationThis paper describes a newly developed Challenge-Based-Instruction (CBI) course forMeasurements and Instrumentation (M&I) in mechanical engineering. This form ofinstruction relies on asking questions during lecture and is one of the best ways to incitecuriosity among the students. This curiosity compels the students to find the answer tothe question posed. The nature of the questions can propel them into a state ofinquisitiveness and hence provide the instructor the right time and opportunity to presentthe course material. The CBI method of instruction thoroughly exploits this naturaltendency with the goal of fostering committed and deeper learning rather than surfacelearning. For the M&I course, a series of challenge questions were developed. Forexample, the concepts of “Measurement System Behavior” were introduced through thefollowing challenge question: Would a spring-mass-damper system behave anydifferently inside a space station orbiting the earth than it does on the surface of theearth? Why or why not? How would you use a spring to measure the mass of an astronautin the orbiting space station?Several metrics were used to measure student learning including; homework, in-class-quizzes (both formative and summative), laboratory exercises, and midterm and finalexams. The “average performance scores” of the students from two different semesters,one with the CBI method of instruction and one without, were compared. Thecomparison yielded an effect size of 0.15 and showed that the average scores of thestudents during the semester with CBI were higher by about 12% as compared to thesemester without CBI. The introduction of the CBI method of instruction in the M&Icourse was therefore promising as it created a conducive atmosphere for classroomdiscussion, and increased student participation and interest in both the lectures as well asthe laboratory sessions. Furthermore, after the challenge-question was presented, theinteraction of the instructor with the students showed an increase in student participationduring the lectures and the students were more inclined to relate the concepts learnedduring the class and in the laboratory sessions with real-life examples.

Choutapalli, I. M., & Freeman, R. A., & Park, Y. (2012, June), Challenge-based Instruction in Measurements and Instrumentation Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21049

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