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Collaboratively Developing Research-Based Curricular Materials to Improve Conceptual Understanding in Engineering Education

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

NSF Grantees' Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.299.1 - 23.299.5



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Paper Authors


Shane A. Brown P.E. Washington State University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Shane Brown conducts research on cognition and conceptual change in engineering. He received his bachelor’s and Ph.D. degrees from Oregon State University, both in Civil Engineering. His Ph.D. degree includes a minor in Science and Mathematics Education. His master’s degree is in Environmental Engineering from the University of California-Davis. Dr. Brown is a licensed professional civil engineer and has six years of experience designing water and wastewater treatment facilities in central California. He was the recipient of the NSF CAREER award in 2011. Dr. Brown’s research focuses on theoretical approaches to understanding why some engineering concepts are harder to learn than others, and how the concepts are embedded in contexts.

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Devlin B. Montfort Washington State University


Cara J Poor P.E. Washington State University

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Dr. Poor has been teaching many of the integral undergraduate civil engineering courses at Washington State University for the last six years, including seven mechanics of materials courses. She received the departments’ Outstanding Teaching Award in 2010 and Outstanding Advising Award in 2012. Dr. Poor is a licensed professional engineer with ongoing research in hydrology, water quality, and engineering education. Her education research includes contributing to the design of an innovative peer-tutoring program, which she continues to implement. Dr. Poor is co-author, with Dr. Brown, of a book of ranking tasks for use in interactive mechanics of materials courses.

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Collaboratively Developing Research-Based Curricular Materials to Improve Conceptual Understanding in Engineering EducationPedagogical changes arising from conceptual change research more often take the formof local hotspots of high effort rather than less intense broad changes in practices. Thepurpose of this paper is introduce a new project intended to catalyze a local, intense effortinto a mesoscale, less concentrated change in teaching practices in mechanics ofmaterials. Approximately 100 students will be interviewed to build on our existingresearch on student understanding of mechanics of materials. The end product willinclude characterizations of student understanding of all fundamental concepts in thisarea. Building on this research, pedagogical materials will be developed by a group ofapproximately 20 educators representing universities and community colleges in thenorthwest. The development of these materials will focus equally on their efficacy andadoptability. Additional ongoing research will result in easily adoptable curricularmaterials that account for the latest research findings. The expected outcomes of thisproject include: (1) Digitally and physically disseminated curricular materials withsupporting materials that can be implemented by any instructor to increase their students’conceptual understanding of mechanics of materials; (2) Adoption of the designedmaterials in at least 15 institutions, reaching thousands of undergraduate engineeringstudents each year; (3) Publication and presentations of the curricular materials includingseminars in at least 10 institutions; (4) An established researcher/instructor communitythat will develop, promote and disseminate future pedagogical interventions.

Brown, S. A., & Montfort, D. B., & Poor, C. J. (2013, June), Collaboratively Developing Research-Based Curricular Materials to Improve Conceptual Understanding in Engineering Education Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19313

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