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Collaborative Learning In Undergraduate Dynamics Courses: Some Examples

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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

4.127.1 - 4.127.12

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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 3268

Collaborative Learning in Undergraduate Dynamics Courses: Some Examples

Francesco Costanzo and Gary L. Gray Engineering Science and Mechanics Department The Pennsylvania State University


At Penn State University, we are in the midst of revising the way undergraduate dynamics is taught through an approach we call Interactive Dynamics. Interactive Dynamics is designed to engage students in a collaborative learning environment in which they also perform ex- periments. Students generate and analyze data, observe graphic representations of the data, and construct as well as interact with simulations. In this paper we will discuss some exam- ples of “activities” we have created for Interactive Dynamics. These activities address not only those attributes that ABET, industry, and NSF would like to see in an engineer, but also embody the intellectual aspects of mechanics and dynamics beyond those essential skills needed to succeed in the engineering workplace.

1 Introduction Undergraduate dynamics is a required course in many undergraduate curricula such as mechani- cal, civil, industrial, and aerospace engineering. In the College of Engineering at Penn State Uni- versity, for example, it is taken by more than 700 students per year. Unfortunately, for many if not most students, it is not only one of the most dreaded courses in their entire curriculum, it is also a course for which some students see little purpose (e.g., architectural and industrial engi- neers at Penn State University). We are trying to change this state of affairs at Penn State by making the course more interesting and relevant to students through the introduction of both hands-on and computer-based experiments/projects that we call “activities”. In addition, through these activities we are hoping to address some of the needs and concerns expressed by accredita- tion boards such as ABET and agencies such as NSF with regard to engineering education [1–4]. Details regarding what we are trying to do, how we are doing it, some of the problems we have encountered, as well as early assessment results can be found in references [5–8]. The purpose of the present paper is to present a range of the activities we have used in the course. We will do so with sufficient detail so that other instructors can use them or projects, problems, and/or experi- ments like them in their own courses.

Costanzo, F., & Gray, G. L. (1999, June), Collaborative Learning In Undergraduate Dynamics Courses: Some Examples Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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